1998 RALLY NEW ZEALAND
Saturday 25, July
Leg 1 Totals - 222.83 km - 8 SS in 48.10 km
MITSUBISHI LANCER AND CARISMA MAKE GOOD START TO RALLY NEW ZEALAND
Mitsubishi's Carisma GT and Lancer Evolution have made an encouraging start
to the Rally New Zealand, with Carisma driver Richard Burns fourth and
Lancer man Tommi Makinen sixth after the first leg of the ninth round of
the 1998 World Rally Championship. Mitsubishi Lancers also hold the top
three places in the Group N production category, led by Uruguayan Gustavo
High winds and torrential rain greeted competitors throughout the eight
stages of the first leg, concentrated in Maramarua Forest south of
Auckland. Thousands of intrepid spectators trekked into the forests, not in
the least deterred by the weather, while the drivers reported that the
conditions, though difficult and muddy in places, were not as bad as they
Burns and fellow Briton Robert Reid have made the running for Mitsubishi,
driving neatly and making good use of their Michelin tyres to keep the
leaders very much in sight.
"We've been going quite a good pace and the narrow tyre was definitely an
improvement as the conditions got worse that last stage was just a
mudbath," Burns reported.
Makinen and fellow Finn Risto Mannisenmaki started cautiously in their
Lancer Evolution, as Makinen is keen not to repeat last year's accident,
but he set some impressive stage times despite a spin on SS6.
"No problems at all. There are still two days to go and I have been a
little bit careful, although I lost 15 seconds when I spun, because I was a
bit slow to get reverse gear. Tomorrow's stages are quite different and
there should be less mud," Makinen said.
"Today has been very short in terms of distance and the rally hasn't
established a pattern. Tommi has recovered well from his spin and Richard
has gone very well. I'm sure Tommi will settle down to a good pace, but
there are some difficult stages to come," concluded Team Mitsubishi
Ralliart Team Manager Phil Short.
Thailand Rally winner Yoshihiro Kataoka has driven well in the rain to hold
12th place, giving him a good chance of improving his position in the
Asia-Pacific Championship in his Lancer Evolution, while Ed Ordynski is
happy with 13th place in his similar car, despite a spin on SS8.
Mitsubishi traditionally dominates Group N and Uruguay's Gustavo Trelles
has rocketed in front in his Lancer Evolution ahead of New Zealander Ross
Meekings and Japan's Katsuhiko Taguchi.
The second leg includes 157 kilometres of tough stages north of Auckland.
CLASSIFICATION AFTER LEG 1