TESTING CHALLENGE FOR THE MITSUBISHI WRC CREWS Galli 9th, RovanperÃ¤ 11th and Panizzi retires with engine-related problems The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports WRC crew of "Gigi" Galli/Guido d'Amore hold ninth position at the end of the second leg...
TESTING CHALLENGE FOR THE MITSUBISHI WRC CREWS
Galli 9th, Rovanperä 11th and Panizzi retires with engine-related problems
The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports WRC crew of "Gigi" Galli/Guido d'Amore hold ninth position at the end of the second leg of the Rallye de France - Tour de Course. Lancer WRC05 team-mates Harri Rovanperä/Risto Pietiläinen have moved into 11th, while Gilles and Hervé Panizzi have been forced to retire the car from the leg due to engine-related problems.
"We have had a tough time but we are constantly trying different things to overcome our problems", said Isao Torii, Head of Mitsubishi Motor Sports. "Gigi and Harri have done their maximum and we must make sure they finish the rally to continue our preparations for next week in Spain. So far we don't exactly know what the problem is with Gilles' car, so we need to investigate and then consider our course of action".
Unusually, the Tour de Corse has not yet presented its notorious weather and tire dilemmas and as the day once again dawned clear and warm, Pirelli's dry weather tires were the obvious choice for the day's stages. The leg, which took the crews to the north of Ajaccio, covered two loops of two identical stages and included runs over the longest of the event, the 36.24 kilometer Vico - Col de Sarzoggiu stage.
Gigi Galli and Guido d'Amore continue to lead the trio of Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05s but the Italians are still trying to gain confidence over the often bumpy twisty mountain roads. While the feeling again increased over the second loop of stages, Gigi remains focused on trying different settings and gaining experience in a world rally car on the tricky Corsican roads. He also lost fourth gear half-way through the final stage of the leg.
"Yesterday morning I drove like my mother; this morning I was driving like my aunt!" said Gigi. "This afternoon I had a little more confidence, but my feeling is still not where I want it to be. We have been trying different settings for the height, suspension and roll bar during the day and we are understanding more all the time, but I am not taking risks; it is important to finish and gain information for the team".
Harri Rovanperä and Risto Pietiläinen have experienced the same transmission-related problems as yesterday but have moved one place up the leaderboard. "We had to switch to the manual gearshift again in the first stage this morning and it's not so easy", said Harri. "This afternoon we had the same problems, but also tried harder springs at the front which made the car a little more precise on the smooth surfaces, but when it was rough the car was bumping more. Positively, for sure we can see that Pirelli's evolution tire is much better".
Gilles and Hervé Panizzi have struggled all day with the set-up and handling and the French rallying brothers then stopped in the final stage with engine-related problems. In a bid to conserve the engine for Rallye Catalunya, the team opted to check the car in service before potentially causing unnecessary damage ahead of the first and only back-to-back rally this season.
Adding to the drivers' comments, Principal Rally Engineer Roger Estrada said: "It's been another difficult day but we continue to analyze data and test different settings to try and make improvements for Rallye Catalunya next week".
The final leg of the Rallye de France - Tour de Corse is the shortest but again takes in two loops of two identical stages. The route covers 95.46 competitive kilometers before the finish in Ajaccio at 13:50 hrs (local).
News from our rivals
Reigning World Champion Sébastien Loeb extended his lead in the second leg and with team-mate Franƒois Duval dropping down the order with brake problems, the Frenchman - who again won all four stages - now has one minute and 30.5 seconds in hand to second-placed Toni Gardemeister. Duval, in fourth, now sandwiches the Subarus of Petter Solberg and Stéphane Sarrazin, with Roman Kresta - in the second nominated Ford - rounding off the top six. After his gearbox problems yesterday, Marcus Grönholm failed to re-start and the only other leading retirements from the leg were Armin Schwarz, the German withdrawn by îkoda for safety reasons after bizarre handling problems on the Fabia WRC, and Daniel Solà, who went off the road.