Rovanpera 5th Overall After an eventful leg two of the 2005 Corona Rally MÃ©xico, the Finnish Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05 crews of Harri RovanperÃ¤ and Risto PietilÃ¤inen lies in fifth position and team-mates Gilles Panizzi and HervÃ© Panizzi ...
Rovanpera 5th Overall
After an eventful leg two of the 2005 Corona Rally México, the Finnish Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05 crews of Harri Rovanperä and Risto Pietiläinen lies in fifth position and team-mates Gilles Panizzi and Hervé Panizzi hold eighth place in the second Lancer WRC05.
Crews left the León service park for two loops of three identical stages and 146.84 kilometers of competition, high in the beautiful mountainous landscapes north and east of León. Bright sunshine greeted crews from the outset, with temperatures reaching a pleasant 23 degrees.
Mitsubishi crews made excellent progress throughout leg two with both crews climbing up the leaderboard considerably from their overnight positions.
Harri Rovanperä upped his pace on the stages this morning and set a seventh, fifth and sixth fastest times. He unfortunately had a delayed start as he arrived into service with his engine running on three cylinders.
Team mechanics changed the ignition system, fuel line and ECU during the early morning service, but the Finn incurred a 1min 20sec penalty after leaving service eight minutes late, meaning he started the day in 11th overall.
He fought hard to make up time throughout the leg, continuing to set competitive times, including a fourth fastest on the 25.45 kilometer El Zauco-Mesa 2 stage, reaching a respectable fifth overall.
"Today has shown how exciting rallying can be. The two crews and the whole team never lost their spirit and the drivers fought their way back up the leaderboard", said Isao Torii, President of Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports. "But the rally has not yet finished. If Harri can keep his pace, even a podium is always possible, and Gilles is also in a good position to score manufacturer points, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed!"
Commenting from the final service, Rovanperä said: "It's been a really tough day. First we got the penalty, then we damaged the sump after a heavy landing in stage eight this morning, so the mechanics changed it in the lunchtime service. The car was feeling quite OK this afternoon so we won't be making any big changes, but tire choice will be difficult for the long stage tomorrow".
Panizzi's performance improved in the afternoon loop of stages but the Frenchman was still having difficulty keeping the driving line that he wanted to.
"The balance today is similar to yesterday but a bit better", commented Panizzi. "I am still fighting to steer when I brake on the line and I can't keep the line even when I can see it. Because of this, I have a little less confidence".
Adding to the drivers' comments, the team's Technical Director Mario Fornaris said: "The first important point is that even after all the retirements today, we still have two cars running which is our target. The cars have suffered quite a lot today as it was so rough and slippery but our performance is quite good - Harri is still about 0.5 seconds a kilometer off the pace of the best. Tomorrow we hope to keep our pace and that will allow us to get back to the positions we should be in and to score a solid points total".
Mitsubishi Lancer driver German Michael Kahlfuss leads the Group N crews and holds 17th overall. Local hero Erwin Richter retired on leg one but was able to start the second day under the revised restart rules and now lies second ahead of fellow Mexican Carlos Tejada in third.
The third and final leg of Corona Rally México covers only two stages that are new to the rally for 2005, the second of which is the longest of the event, covering 44.39 kilometers in the mountains northeast of León. Crews reach the León finish podium at 12:30 local time.