The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports WRC crew of "Gigi" Galli and Guido D'Amore finished in the points in their second outing in Rally New Zealand, the fourth round of the FIA World Rally Championship. The Italian Lancer WRC05 duo finished eighth...
The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports WRC crew of "Gigi" Galli and Guido D'Amore finished in the points in their second outing in Rally New Zealand, the fourth round of the FIA World Rally Championship. The Italian Lancer WRC05 duo finished eighth and claimed a driver and manufacturer points finish for the second time this season - Mitsubishi's fourth consecutive points-scoring finish in 2005. Team-mates Harri Rovanpera and Risto Pietilainen completed the final stage but were then withdrawn by the team on the road section back to Auckland with tire problems.
"Even though Gigi added to his and the team's points tally, this has been a disappointing rally for us," said Isao Torii, Head of Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports. "We expected more but have experienced technical problems and for this we cannot be happy. Both cars finished the stages, but we struggled with the tire wear and we have to analyze this, do our homework and work to overcome such problems."
The final leg of Rally New Zealand was fought out on the stages near Raglan, 160 kilometers south of Auckland. Two loops of two stages lay in wait and both included the famous and spectacular Whaanga Coast stage, which hugs the coastline of the Tasman Sea and is rated as one of the best roads in the Championship.
Gigi Galli and Guido D'Amore had a trouble-free final leg, maintaining their unchallenged eighth position. "Our goal was to get to the finish and be in the points, so I think we did our job well," said Gigi at the finish. "We had some technical problems in the first leg and then today we drove these stages for the first time; they are very twisty and complicated but we didn't have any problems. Personally I have to feel very satisfied with our own performance."
Team-mates Harri Rovanpera and Risto Pietilainen experienced some engine overheating problems during this morning's stages, but the crew completed all of Rally New Zealand's 20 stages. However, they experienced excessive tire wear today and by the end of the final stage were running virtually without rubber. On the road section back to service, the wear deteriorated further and the team took the decision to withdraw the crew rather than run on the road illegally and potentially cause damage to the Lancer WRC05.
"Harri ended up driving with no rubber on the rear wheels on the road section back to Auckland and there was no sense in carrying on like this," said Mario Fornaris, the team's Technical Director. "On the one hand this has been our most difficult event this year, but Gigi continues to perform well and very consistently. We have to continue working with Pirelli, as tires have been our main problem during this rally. We know that Harri has a more aggressive driving style, which causes the tires to wear maybe 10/20% more, but we have to find some solution to this."
The fifth round of the series takes the FIA World Rally Championship contenders to the Mediterranean island of Sardinia for Rally Italia - Sardinia (28 April-1 May). Gigi Galli will again be partnering Harri Rovanpera in the second Lancer WRC05, and the Italian will be hoping to improve on his fine sixth overall in 2004, an impressive achievement in Mitsubishi's Group N machinery. Looking ahead to Cyprus, Gilles Panizzi will once again be behind the wheel, piloting the second Lancer WRC05.
News from our rivals
Sebastien Loeb racked up his second victory of the season this afternoon, claiming an emphatic 49.8 second advantage in the Citroën Xsara. The Frenchman now moves up the series leaderboard into second behind Championship leader Petter Solberg, who finished third behind Marcus Gronholm. Francois Duval finished fourth, his first points-scoring finish since joining Citroën this year. Toni Gardemeister - piloting the sole registered Focus after Roman Kresta was forced to withdraw after a huge accident during shakedown - extended Ford's record of points-scoring finishes by claiming sixth. Chris Atkinson finished a fine seventh in his first season with Subaru, picking up useful driver and manufacturer points. Skoda's Janne Tuohino was the only manufacturer retirement during the event, the Finn out with a broken turbo this morning.