The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports WRC team today completed its preparations for Rally Finland, the tenth round of the FIA World Rally Championship, and the crews are firmly focused on targeting the podium on Sunday afternoon. Harri RovanperÃ¤ and...
The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports WRC team today completed its preparations for Rally Finland, the tenth round of the FIA World Rally Championship, and the crews are firmly focused on targeting the podium on Sunday afternoon. Harri Rovanperä and Risto Pietiläinen have the additional benefit of home support, while "Gigi" Galli and Guido d’Amore are eagerly awaiting their first Finnish outing in a World Rally Car.
"We had a good test for this rally a few weeks ago so today’s shakedown was quite straight-forward for us", commented Yasuo Tanaka, the team’s new Technical Director. "The crews seem to have a good feeling, we made some small checks to the Lancer WRC05s this morning and now we are looking forward to the start of an event that should hopefully be good for Mitsubishi".
The popularity of Rally Finland is such that one-fifth of the country’s population turns out to watch their round of the series and hordes of Finns and fans from neighboring Scandinavian and Baltic countries attended this morning’s shakedown test, witnessing the cars in high-speed action for the first time. Harri Rovanperä is, typically, one of the favored local drivers and with no fewer than 12 home outings under his belt the Finn is looking forward to a top performance in front of thousands of friends, family and national supporters.
"All the drivers now know these roads well, so being Finnish doesn’t give you the advantage it used to", said Harri. "With the jumps and blind crests, the technique is to be on exactly the right line when you land, and then know precisely where you’re going next; you have to have absolute confidence in the car and I think there could be a really tight fight this weekend. I heard there is going to be some rain later tonight, but how much we have to wait and see. Two days ago there was a lot - I’ve not seen rain like that this summer. Some of the stages are already soft, so for sure on the second passage of cars it might not be so good".
Gigi Galli has less experience of the Finnish roads, although the Italian has competed here five times and took victory in Mitsubishi’s Group N Lancer Evolution last year.
"The Finnish test was my first time on these roads in a World Rally Car and the feeling is still as amazing", said Gigi. "Shakedown was okay, but we did not need to do too many runs as the feeling was the same as during the test. I’m confident with the car and what we have achieved; I just hope we can show everyone the progress we have made as a team. This is the most particular event in the WRC and I will start at my own pace and see how the feeling is. Here there are a lot of good local drivers, which obviously makes it harder, but it is also good to be able to compare your performance with drivers who know the roads very well".
Rally Finland kicks off this evening with the popular Killeri super special stage on the outskirts of Jyväskylä, but the real action begins on Friday when the crews contest seven forest stages before rounding off the day’s action back at Killeri. In total, the opening leg covers nine stages and 144.27 competitive kilometers.