WRC

Rally Catalunya: Mitsubishi leg one summary

GALLI 5TH FOR MITSUBISHI WRC TEAMGalli shows asphalt potential of Lancer WRC05 The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports WRC crew of "Gigi" Galli and Guido d'Amore lead the team's assault in Rally Catalunya, the penultimate round of the FIA World...

GALLI 5TH FOR MITSUBISHI WRC TEAMGalli shows asphalt potential of Lancer WRC05

The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports WRC crew of "Gigi" Galli and Guido d'Amore lead the team's assault in Rally Catalunya, the penultimate round of the FIA World Rally Championship. The Lancer WRC05 crew hold fifth overall, just 11.7 seconds adrift of fourth, after setting top stage times in the final asphalt event of the season. Running a different specification to their team-mates, Harri Rovanperä and Risto Pietiläinen suffered with similar problems to Corsica this morning, but modifications to the set-up have improved their Lancer WRC05s performance. The loss of time this morning, however, has dropped the crew to 14th overnight.

Rally Catalunya kicked off last night with a ceremonial start on the promenade in Salou, but the action began in earnest this morning as the crews headed north of the coastal holiday resort for the opening six stages and 155.82 competitive kilometers. Overcast but warm and humid conditions have threatened rain throughout the leg and while some has fallen, in the main stages have either been damp or dry, which has still posed the usual Tarmac rally tire dilemmas.

Gigi Galli's performance today is encouraging progress for the team, the Italian's Lancer WRC05 running with modifications since the Rallye de France last week. After a measured start early this morning, Gigi has upped the pace, gaining confidence in the car to set top times in the lead Mitsubishi. Two fourth-fastest times see him overnight in fifth position, within striking distance of Ford's Toni Gardemeister.

"It's been a good day, but I have to say the pace is high", said Gigi. "The improvements we have made in the short time after Corsica are a step forward and tomorrow we will again try to maintain our pace. I try to reach the edge, to understand more about the car and find out where the limits are. But today has been good, and our position is nice".

Team-mate Harri Rovanperä was running a different specification to Galli this morning and experienced similar gearshift problems to those in Corsica. After back-to-back competitive comparisons demonstrated improved performance, team engineers made the necessary modifications to his Lancer WRC05 but he was still hampered in the middle two stages with an unlucky component malfunction. In the final two stages of the leg though, the Finns were happier with the car but still intent on testing a number of set-ups.

"In the last two stages the transmission problem disappeared and okay, now I feel I have something to work with", said Harri. "It's been a frustrating day, but we try again tomorrow with some different settings to see what we can do".

Adding to the drivers' comments, Roger Estrada, Principal Rally Engineer, said: "It's been a very positive day and the hard work by the team has resulted in us eliminating the Corsican problems and increasing our performance. Harri was unfortunate to have some issues, but these are now sorted and he should be able to look forward to a good run tomorrow. Tires have been good all day, despite some tricky conditions".

Concluded Isao Torii, Head of Mitsubishi Motor Sports: "It's been a good day and Gigi has done a very good job. It's been a difficult situation with such a short space of time between events, but thanks to a big team effort, not just here but also in Rugby, Gigi has regained his speed, been more confident with the car and able to show our improvements. I am sorry for Harri and his problems, but we found some solutions and hopefully he can begin to show his speed tomorrow. I hope we can keep this up all weekend and have to thank the whole team for their efforts".

The second leg of Rally Catalunya takes in another six stages and 134.85 competitive kilometers, all run to the north and west of Salou.

News from our rivals

Five stage victories from six once again secures Sébastien Loeb his position at the head of the leaderboard and the Citroën driver now has 53.3 seconds in hand to team-mate Franƒois Duval. Third position is held by a chasing Marcus Grönholm, the Finn just 18.4 seconds adrift in the lead Peugeot 307 WRC. Toni Gardemeister, who finished a fine second last week in Corsica, is fourth and intent on protecting his position from Mitsubishi's Galli. Petter Solberg and Subaru team-mate Stéphane Sarrazin were the only leading retirements from the leg. Solberg was forced out after SS3 when he got caught out on a downhill left-hand corner. After bouncing into a bank, the Subaru then hit a rock and damaged the front and rear suspension too much to continue. Sarrazin ran wide in the final stage, clipped something and rolled, his Impreza briefly catching fire. Both crews are unhurt.

-mitsubishi-

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