Mitsubishi set to fly in Finland. Marlboro Mitsubishi Ralliart completed its final preparations for the 2002 Rally Finland today when the team's three registered crews ran the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution WRC2s for the final time ahead of the ...
Mitsubishi set to fly in Finland.
Marlboro Mitsubishi Ralliart completed its final preparations for the 2002 Rally Finland today when the team's three registered crews ran the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution WRC2s for the final time ahead of the start of this spectacularly high-speed event.
The shakedown test at Laajavuori, on the outskirts of Jyvaskyla, was however the culmination of the team's extensive preparation with the second generation World Rally Car, which makes its competitive debut in Finland. Nearly one month ago, Lasse Lampi and Jani Paasonen undertook the first loose surface test on Finnish soil, while the regular crews of François Delecour and Alister McRae finalised the set-up of the car during a five-day test last week.
"The car has progressed, but it's impossible to quantify where we will be until the rally starts," commented Marlboro Mitsubishi Ralliart chief engineer Bernard Lindauer. "Our test last week finalised the settings for this event and focused on the differential, engine and suspension set-up. The drivers are all happy enough but we don't want to make any predictions until we can compare ourselves with the opposition."
The all-French crew of François Delecour and Daniel Grataloup completed just a handful of runs over the 2.5 kilometre shakedown road, their extensive pre-event test leaving them happy with the handling of the Lancer Evolution WRC2. "The feeling is good, but now we have to see where are in relation to the front-runners," said François. "For sure I am looking forward to the rally and I hope we can score some points for the team."
Team-mates Alister McRae and David Senior also kept their runs to a minimum, confident that their preparatory work will stand them in good stead. "The car is definitely better and you get a bit of an idea of where you are during the shakedown, but you never know whether the other drivers are testing stuff or pushing flat-out. We did a bit more work on the diffs today, but have basically ended up where we finished the test."
Jani Paasonen and Arto Kapanen will be driving the third registered Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution WRC2 in Finland, the Flying Finns being given the opportunity to push to the limit to show both their and the car's potential. "We will be maximum attack, care!" joked Jani.
Adding to the drivers comments, Marlboro Mitsubishi Ralliart team manager Derek Dauncey said: "We have some good positions on the road for leg one and the plan is to capitalise on that to ensure we run in the lower half of the top 15 for the second leg. From there, we will see what happens."
Rally Finland starts tonight at 18:00 hrs from Paviljonki, the Jyvaskylan base for the duration of the event. After the ceremonial start, the crews head to the super special stage at Killeri for one run at the 2.06 kilometre purpose-built stage. However, the rally begins in earnest on Friday morning, a total of nine special stages to the north of Jyvaskyla providing the opening leg of competition.