1999 Rallye Movistar Catalunya - Costa Brava Official Site: http://www.rallyecatalunya.com/99/indexi.htm Round 5 of the 1999 FIA World Rally Championship 19-21 April

A spectacular day today with the two Formula 2 Citroen Xsara Kit cars leading the Rallye Catalunya outright. Puras won 4 of the days 7 stages (SS1 was cancelled due to excess spectators) and finished 7 seconds ahead of team mate Bugalski who were followed neatly by the 2 Corollas of Auriol & Sainz and then the 2 Mitsubishis of Makinen and Loix.

Regular World Championship teams were frustrated by the pace of the Citroens and Peugots which are built for European tarmac events, not the World Championship like the WRC cars. The F2 cars develop the same power as the WRC cars but are considerably lighter and are therefore faster, particularly on dry bitumen.

Other than the Citroens, Toyotas had no major problems. Mitusbishi - Makinen had some tyre/suspension problems early on but was able to fix these; 'Fast Freddy' Loix was still feeling some pain from his accident in the Safari but is still on the pace.

Colin McRae finished in 33rd and had 1min 20 sec of penalties after engine problems. He stalled at the start of SS4 and lost over 4 minutes during SS5. Jean-Joseph was 12th.

Subarus had a quiet day - Burns was unhappy with his car; Thiry made some incorrect tyre choices and Kankkunen finished in 11th.

The Seats of Liatti and Rovanpera had handling problems and dropped to 15th and 19th.

Other impressive drives were the Skoda of Armin Schwarz - it is great to see the Skoda doing well after its problems earlier this year. Also, Adruzilo Lopes in the Peugot 306 Maxi desipte having brake problem for most of the day was 9th outright.

Tyres and grip were perhaps the biggest common problem today. Tyre temperature was up to 130 deg C which caused excess tyre wear and some braking problems. Also, the WR cars are throwing up a lot of dirt on the road as they pass which is making it difficult for the Formula 2 cars such as the Citroens and Peugots to set competitive times. Tomorrow, when the Citroens start at the front of the field they may have an even greater advantage.

In Group N, two of the favourites, Finnish driver Puhakka (Mitsubishi) and Austrian driver Stohl (Mitsubishi) retired with mechanical problems. Trelles now leads comfortably.

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Unofficial results at the end of Leg 1:

1 Puras                Citroen Xsara                1:27:19,4
2 Bugalski        Citroen Xsara                1:27:26,4
3 Auriol        Toyota Corolla                1:27:29,7
4 Sainz                Toyota Corolla                1:27:36.8
5 Makinen        Mit Lancer Evo VI        1:27:53,7
6 Loix                Mit Carimsa                1:28:15,5
7 Burns                Subaru Impreza                1:28:29,7
8 Schwarz        Skoda Octavia                1:28:46,2
9 Lopes                Peugot 3O6 Maxi                1:28:50,4
10 Thiry        Subaru Impreza                1:29:04,7

Group N:

1 Trellles        Mit Lancer Evo V        1:32:40,9
2 Al Wahaibi        Mit Lancer                1:33:43,1
2 Manfrinato        Mit Lancer                 1:34:31,8

Formula 2:

1 Puras                Citroen Xsara                1:27:19,4
2 Bugalski        Citroen Xsara                1:27:26,4
9 Lopes                Peugot 3O6 Maxi                1:28:50,4

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Stage Winners:

Puras: 2,3,5,8 Auriol: 6,7 Makinen: 4

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SS 1, ELS ANGELS 1 15.66km

Notes:

The first stage in the first leg of the Rallye Catalunya-Costa Brava has been cancelled due to the massive gathering of public standing at the start and finish of the stage. Makinen (Mitsubishi) has been the only driver who has run the stage, before the FIA observer decided to inspect the stage until finally determining its cancellation. The next driver, Colin McRae (Ford) did not get to start the stage. All drivers have been allocated the same stage time as Tommi Mäkinen (9:50,7).

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SS 2, SANTA PALLAIA 1 11.66km

Notes:

Jesús Puras (Citroën): "I'm very satisfied. We will have to continue working. We have to make some adjustments, but the car responds very well. We must continue like this and not lose our concentration".

Carlos Sainz (Toyota): "The press should cooperate to make the fans aware of the importance of the safety measures. The truth is that at the first stage, there were a lot of people. Now we have done our best and we must continue fighting".

Tommi Makinen (Mitsubishi): "My tires have cooled down so I had little grip. And I was the only one that has run the first stage so my tires have worn down a lot".

Bruno Thiry (Subaru): "I have not been able to do much. I have made two important errors. I hope everything goes better".

Stage Pos/ Driver/ Car/ Stage Time:

1 Puras                Citroen Xsara                7:42,6
2 Auriol        Toyota Corolla                7:45,2
3 Sainz                Toyota Corolla                7:46,5
4 Makinen        Mit Lancer Evo VI        7:47,2
5 Bugalski        Citroen Xsara                7:47,9

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SS 3, COLL DE BRACONS 19.89km

Notes:

Jesús Puras (Citroën): "The car goes wonderfully, and we will try to keep this pace as much as we can. We are very satisfied".

Harri Rovanperä (Seat): "The stage's roads were fine, but the car does not respond, I don't know what's happening".

Carlos Sainz (Toyota): "We keep going, we are awaiting to see what happens".

Philippe Bugalski (Citroën): "We have made a good result, but I still need to feel more freedom inside the car".

Stage Pos/ Driver/ Car/ Stage Time:

1 Puras                Citroen Xsara                13:02,1
2 Bugalski        Citroen Xsara                13:06,0
3 Sainz                Toyota Corolla                13:09,0
4 Auriol        Toyota Corolla                13:10,4
4 McRae                Ford Focus                13:10,4

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SS 4, LA TRONA 12.86km

Notes:

Tommi Makinen (Mitsubishi): "I am not very satisfied with the suspension. I think that the Kit Cars are doing a good job".

Colin McRae (Ford): "No comments" (His engine was stalled at the start).

Richard Burns (Subaru):"I am not very satisfied about how things are going".

Piero Liatti (Seat): "I'm having problems with the front axle, we have modified the angle of the wheels for this Rallye and the car's nose slid".

Freddy Loix (Mitsubishi): "We are going to the limit without risking too much".

Pavel Sibera (Skoda): "We came off the road a bit at the end of the stage; apparently, we only have a bump in the hood and we broke the headlights".

Philippe Bugalski (Citroën): "The car went off and I spun, although it was after the arrival. Despite this, I'm satisfied".

Stage Pos/ Driver/ Car/ Stage Time:

1 Makinen        Mit Lancer Evo VI        8:31,5
2 McRae                Ford Focus                8:31,6
3 Sainz                Toyota Corolla                8:32,5
4 Auriol        Toyota Corolla                8:32,8
5 Bugalski        Citroen Xsara                8:34,1

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SS 5, LA FULLACA-ARBUCIES 32.64km

Notes:

Carlos Sainz (Toyota): "There is still a lot of Rallye ahead, what matters now is to continue and not make any mistakes".

Harri Rovanperä (Seat): "Things are going wrong, my brakes did not work downhill and my tires are failing because of the tarmac's high temperature".

Philippe Bugalski (Citroën): "The track was very dirty and the tires' temperature went over 130ºC".

Freddy Loix (Mitsubishi): "After the accident I suffered in the Safari, I still feel some pain, but I'm recovering".

Stage Pos/ Driver/ Car/ Stage Time:

1 Puras                Citroen Xsara                20:28,4
2 Bugalski        Citroen Xsara                20:32,0
3 Sainz                Toyota Corolla                20:37,3
4 Auriol        Toyota Corolla                20:40,3
5 Loix                Mit Carimsa                20:49,8

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SS 6, CLADELLS 15.27km

Notes:

Jesús Puras (Citroën): "The four-wheel drive cars destroyed the stage so we have not been able to make good times".

Philippe Bugalski (Citroën): "I made a good choice on the tires and everything worked out well. These last two stages have been very tough".

Tommi Makinen (Mitsubishi): "I wore the tires down in La Fullaca and in this stage I've had more problems".

Bruno Thiry (Subaru): "I have chosen very soft tires and I have not been able to make them resist until the end".

Freddy Loix (Mitsubishi): "The last two stages have been very difficult. The tarmac's temperature burns the tires, but I'm very happy with the result".

Stage Pos/ Driver/ Car/ Stage Time:

1 Auriol        Toyota Corolla                10:00,8
2 Loix                Mit Carimsa                10:02,5
3 Bugalski        Citroen Xsara                10:04,5
4 Makinen        Mit Lancer Evo VI        10:06,6
5 Sainz                Toyota Corolla                10:07,9

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SS 7, ELS ANGELS 2 15.66km

Notes:

Tommi Makinen (Mitsubishi): "It seems that we have solved the tire problems that made us lose in the other special stages".

Bruno Thiry (Subaru): "We have been making mistakes all day long in the choice of the tires, and we have not been able to obtain good results".

Piero Liatti (Seat): "We keep dragging along all the problems with the geometry of the front axle. So we have only been able to finish in the tenth position".

Jesús Puras (Citroën): "When we pass through the stages they are very dirty. We are following the same patterns. I hope that tomorrow I can start early so that I can find the stages clean".

Stage Pos/ Driver/ Car/ Stage Time:

1 Auriol        Toyota Corolla                9:41,4
2 Sainz                Toyota Corolla                9:43,8
3 Puras                Citroen Xsara                9:44,4
4 Makinen        Mit Lancer Evo VI        9:45,1
5 Bugalski        Citroen Xsara                9:45,9

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SS 8, SANTA PALLAIA 2 11.66km

Notes:

Carlos Sainz (Toyota): He finished the stage with satisfaction, but when he saw the time result he was disappointed.

Didier Auriol (Toyota): "It went well. But the stage was much dirtier than this morning".

Armin Schwarz (Skoda): "I'm happy with how the first leg went, and I hope it continues like this".

Philippe Bugalski (Citroën): "The car slipped a bit by the rear, but in spite of this, I have obtained a good time result".

Adruzilo Lopes (Peugeot): "In this stage everything went well, and I didn't have any problems with the brakes like I had the rest of the day".

Stage Pos/ Driver/ Car/ Stage Time:

1 Puras                Citroen Xsara                7:43,7
2 Bugalski        Citroen Xsara                7:45,4
3 Auriol        Toyota Corolla                7:48,1
4 Sainz                Toyota Corolla                7:49,1
5 Lopes                Peugot 3O6 Maxi                7:49,8

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From: "Cynan 'Dusty' Rhodes" <cynan@harvestroad.com.au>