FIA World Rally Championship 20 - 23 August 1997 48th Neste Rally Finland Sunday 23 August 1998 _________________________________________________________________ Reigning World Champion, Finn Tommi Makinen with co-driver Risto Mannisenmaki, established a new record by winning the 48th Neste Finland Rally in Jyvaskyla for the fifth time in a row. Second place was taken by Spaniard Carlos Sainz of Toyota, after a three day, hard-fought battle with Ford's Finn Juha Kankkunen over the fast, winding roads of the Finnish countryside. The Mitsubishi driver built his victory during Leg Two, the longest and toughest of the rally, and today was able to maintain the lead over the final 99 kilometres of stages, eventually clinching victory by 35 seconds over the Spaniard and 45 over his fellow-countryman. "It was easier than I expected, because the conditions were so difficult and I had such a good feeling from the start," said Makinen. "It is important to gain this record, but at the moment the FIA World Rally Championship is more important for me." After two days of heavy rain, conditions on today's final leg were drier and, behind Makinen, the pace was as hot as ever. The top positions remained unchanged, with Frenchman Didier Auriol (Toyota) fourth, Briton Richard Burns (Mitsubishi) fifth and Swede Thomas Radström (Toyota) sixth. Makinen's victory in the 10th round of the FIA World Rally Championship, promoted him to second place in the points table, behind the leader Carlos Sainz. In the Manufacturers' Championship Toyota has maintained the lead, with Mitsubishi 11 points behind. The FIA World Rally Championship now takes an enforced break due to the cancellation of the Rally Indonesia in September. The next rendezvous will then be the fourth asphalt event of the series, the Rally Sanremo, 11th round of the championship, starting in the northern Italian city on the 12 of October. Mitsubishi Briton Richard Burns achieved a satisfactory fifth place at his first attempt at this very difficult rally. "I'm happy to have made the finish," said Makinen's team-mate. "At such high speeds you need to be a bit lucky. It has been great fun in those terrible conditions, like England with jumps, and the car has been excellent. Subaru Jarmo Kytolehto increased his pace today, but hopes of repeating on his three consecutive third places in this rally were not to be. "The accident we had on the first day happened too early and I lost a bit of confidence," said the Finn "and, although this day has been better, it was too late." The 555 Subaru WRT lost its other driver, Colin McRae, on the fourth stage of the event. Ford 39-year-old Kankkunen launched a determined attack during the final leg but, despite being quicker than the Spaniard on four of today's stages, he remained just 9,6 seconds behind his rival. "We seemed as much time flying through the air over big jumps as we did on the ground," grinned Kankkunen "and, although we almost halved the overnight gap, there just were not enough kilometres to complete the job. I don't know why, but so many times this season the final day has produced a big battle between Carlos (Sainz) and myself. Next time I have to make sure it's me that finishes ahead." Team-mate, Belgian Bruno Thiry was happier in today's drier conditions and finished 10th overall. Seat Seat's debut of its new World Rally Car was rewarded by a 12th place overall posted by Finn Harri Rovanpera, while Spaniard team-mate Oriol Gomez was less lucky and retired just three stages from the end. "We are very satisfied anyway," said Seat Sport manager, Jaime Puig. "During this rally we have gained important details for the future development of the car and we know that the base model is good, without any mistakes in the concept." Toyota Over the final day's stages, where the cars reached over 215 kph, Sainz fought an exciting battle with old rival Kankkunen, holding off the Finn to the end, but couldn't snatch the lead from Mäkinen. "I started the day hoping that Tommi (Makinen) might lose time to us, but we were close on every stage. Kankkunen tried hard, but I really wanted this result as, with McRae retiring, it has helped our championship challenge." Team-mate Didier Auriol fourth place gave Toyota a 12 point lead in the Manufacturers' championship. "I was in a safe position today but, to keep my concentration, I had to drive at a good speed," said the Frenchman. "I'm satisfied, it's more points for me and the team." Marcus Grönholm fought back from a second day delay, by winning five of today's six stages, to finish an eventual seventh. "I had nothing to lose, so I drove at the maximum today," said the young Finn, "just to prove how strong I was in this event." Other Teams Current Group N leader and reigning World Champion, Uruguayan Gustavo Trelles strongly improved his chances of a third title in a row, winning the category in Finland. The Two-Litre category went to Volkswagen, with Scot rising star Alister McRae, Colin younger brother. With the second place of Finn Toni Gardemeister, Seat increased its leadership in the FIA Two-Litre World Cup. Toyota Team Sweden driver Thomas Radström, was first in the Teams' Cup category, while Estonian driver Markko Martin, scoring second in class and 12th overall, moved Italian HF Grifone into a mathematically unbeatable position in the FIA Teams' Cup, with three rounds still to run. TODAY STATISTICS Leg 3 covered 420,12 kms, including 124.29 kms on 8 special stages. Starters: 69 cars (42 Group A + 27 Group N), re-started the rally. Leading retirements (Finnish unless stated): Gomez (E), Vatanen, Bell (AUS). SS19 Ruuhimäki 2 (7.34km) 1 Burns (GB), Mitsubishi 03m52,9 2 Auriol (F), Toyota 03m53,1 3 Grönholm (FIN), Toyota 03m53,8 Leaders after SS19 1 Mäkinen (FIN), Mitsubishi 2h30m30,9 2 Sainz (E), Toyota 2h31m04,8 3 Kankkunen (FIN), Ford 2h31m21,0 SS20 Hauhanpohja (11.34 kms) 1 Grönholm (FIN), Toyota 05m44,5 2 Kankkunen (FIN), Ford 05m44,9 3 Burns (GB), Mitsubishi 05m46,1 Leaders after SS20 1 Mäkinen (FIN), Mitsubishi 2h36m18,0 2 Sainz (E), Toyota 2h36m52,6 3 Kankkunen (FIN), Ford 2h37m05,9 SS21 Lempää 1 (28.47km) 1 Grönholm (FIN), Toyota 13m45,3 2 Kankkunen (FIN), Ford 13m50,2 3 Sainz (E), Toyota 13m51,5 Leaders after SS21 1 Mäkinen (FIN), Mitsubishi 2h50m13,6 2 Sainz (E), Toyota 2h50m44,1 3 Kankkunen (FIN), Ford 2h50m56,1 SS22 Ylemmäinen 1 (11.91km) 1 Grönholm (FIN), Toyota 06m25,2 2 Mäkinen (FIN), Mitsubishi 06m27,2 3 Kankkunen (FIN), Ford 06m28,3 Leaders after SS22 1 Mäkinen (FIN), Mitsubishi 2h56m40,8 2 Sainz (E), Toyota 2h57m13,4 3 Kankkunen (FIN), Ford 2h57m24,4 SS23 Lempää 2 (28.47km) 1 Grönholm (FIN), Toyota 13m45,1 2 Mäkinen (FIN), Mitsubishi 13m49,3 3 Auriol (F), Toyota 13m50,0 Leaders after SS23 1 Mäkinen (FIN), Mitsubishi 3h10m30,1 2 Sainz (E), Toyota 3h11m03,9 3 Kankkunen (FIN), Ford 3h11m15,3 SS24 Ylemmäinen 2 (11.91km) 1 Grönholm (FIN), Toyota 06m20,8 2 Radström (S), Toyota 06m25,8 3 Mäkinen (FIN), Mitsubishi 06m26,0 = Kankkunen (FIN), Ford 06m26,0 Leaders in Jyvaskyla after SS24 1 Mäkinen (FIN), Mitsubishi 3h16m56,1 2 Sainz (E), Toyota 3h17m31,7 3 Kankkunen (FIN), Ford 3h17m41,3 4 Auriol (F), Toyota 3h19m25,3 5 Burns (GB), Mitsubishi 3h19m52,9 6 Radström (S), Toyota 3h20m07,0 7 Grönholm (FIN), Toyota 3h21m02,0 8 Kytölehto (FIN), Subaru 3h23m46,4 9 Hagström (FIN), Toyota 3h28m11,4 10 Thiry (B), Ford 3h30m05,5 2-Litre leaders in Jyvaskyla after SS24 1 McRae (GB), VW 3h39m45,6 2 Gardemeister (FIN),Seat 3h40m05,4 3 Higgins (GB), Nissan 3h41m27,5 4 Sibera (CZ), Skoda 3h57m11,9 5 Laakso (FIN), VW 4h07m48,2 6 Muhonen (FIN), Opel 4h07m51,8 Gr. N leaders in Jyvaskyla after SS24 1 Trelles (ROU), Mitsubishi 3h41m45,7 2 Climent (E), Mitsubishi 3h46m50,5 3 Walfridsson (S),Mitsubishi 3h50m10,0 4 Kuzai(PL),Mitsubishi 3h50m12,7 5 Myrvang (N), Mitsubishi 3h58m48,4 6 Tempestini (I), Mitsubishi 4h00m07,4 RALLY STATISTICS The rally covered 1271.10km, including 384.10km on 24 special stages (four run twice, two run twice in part). All stages were on gravel public roads (stage 6 and 9/18 partly on asphalt), closed to other traffic. Starters: 116 cars (70 Group A + 46 Group N), started the rally. Finishers: 62 (37 Group A + 25 Group N) Stage winners (some shared) : Grönholm (SS4-7-12-20-21-22-23-24) Makinen (SS8-10-11-14-17) Sainz (SS1-6-1-16) Kankkunen (SS1-13) Radström (SS9-18) McRae (SS2-3) Burns (SS19) Auriol (SS5) Rally leaders: SS1 Sainz (E) + Kankkunen (FIN) SS2 Sainz (E) SS3-SS24 Makinen (FIN) WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers (unofficial positions after 10 of 13 rounds): Sainz (E) 47, Mäkinen (FIN) 38, McRae (GB) 38, Kankkunen (FIN) 31, Auriol (F) 30, Burns (GB) 23, others. FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers (unofficial positions after 10 of 13 rounds): Toyota 72, Mitsubishi 61, Subaru 52, Ford 40. . FIA Cup for Drivers of Production Cars (unofficial positions after 10 of 13 rounds): Trelles (ROU) 81, Stohl (A) 55, Climent (E) 37, Al-Wahaibi (O) 19, Walfridson (S) 13, Guest (AUS) 13, others. FIA 2-Litre World Cup for Manufacturers (unofficial positions after 10 of 13 rounds - total points in brackets): Seat 78 (81), Peugeot 55, Volkswagen 38, Renault 12, Hyundai 12, others. FIA Teams' Cup (unofficial positions after 10 of 13 rounds): Grifone HF (I) 56, Uruguay en Carrera (ROU) 25, Mobil 1 Stomil Olsztyn (PL) 20, Toyota Sweden (S) 16, Toyota Turkey (TR) 15, Sawfish Racing 15, others. NEXT EVENT October 11-14 : Rallye Sanremo - Rallye d'Italie, Sanremo (Italy). Round 11 of the FIA World Rally Championships.