1998 NESTE RALLY FINLAND
Friday 20 August
LEG 1 - 307.18 km - 9 SS - 90.08 km
COMMUNIQUE N° 2
MITSUBISHI LANCER AND CARISMA GT
HOLD FIRST AND SIXTH PLACES IN RALLY FINLAND
Team Mitsubishi Ralliart has made a flying start to the
Rally Finland, as World Rally Champion Tommi Makinen has
forged into a confident lead in his Mitsubishi Lancer
Evolution and he is getting strong support from British
team-mate Richard Burns, who holds sixth place in his
Mitsubishi Carisma GT.
Torrential rain has failed to deter huge crowds of
enthusiastic fans, but made conditions exceptionally
treacherous in the first leg, catching out many top
drivers, including MitsubishiCarisma GT driver Uwe
Nittel, who left the road on stage seven and Subaru
driver Colin McRae, who retired after hitting a tree. It
was proof that there is little margin for error on stages
where the drivers are frequently in fifth and sixth gears
for prolonged stretches.
Even local hero Makinen, co-driven by Risto Mannisenmaki,
admitted to sliding wide on a few corners, but the Finn
made full use of the latest Michelin tyres to establish a
narrow but precious advantage over a top-class field as
he aims for a record-breaking fifth successive victory.
I made a mistake with the tyres at first, but the
car has been very good and we are in the right place for
a big attack on the long stages tomorrow, Makinen
Sixth place for Burns and Robert Reid demonstrates the
capabilities of the Mitsubishi Carisma GT, as the British
crew have never contested the rally before, yet they are
pulling away from a horde of local experts in the most
convincing manner. Indeed, the crews in front of them are
either former winners or local drivers who have led the
rally in the past.
Naturally Im pleased with the car and my own
performance, but these stages are not as tricky as the
second leg. The last long stage was really really
good, Burns stated.
Were very happy with the way the first day
has gone. Tommi has been very quick and very consistent.
The cars have given no problems. Richard has driven
really well on his first visit and has been very
impressive. To have both cars in the top six
points-scoring positions after the first day is very
satisfying, said Team Mitsubishi Ralliart Team
Manager Phil Short.
Mitsubishi Lancers and Carismas have also taken control
of the Group N production category, with promising Finn
Juha Kangas leading Group N World Rally Champion and
fellow Mitsubishi driver Gustavo Trelles. It has been
another telling demonstration of the quality of
The second leg is easily the toughest, with nine stages
south-west of Jyvaskyla, totalling 194 kilometres and
more rain forecast.
CLASSIFICATION AFTER LEG 1
MITSUBISHI OIL - ENKEI - NGK - OHLINS - OMP
PIAA - PRINGLE OF SCOTLAND - SABELT