Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports scored points in the Acropolis Rally when its lead Lancer WRC04, piloted by the all-French crew of Gilles Panizzi/HervÃ© Panizzi, finished the event in Lamia this afternoon. The Panizzi brothers had been on course to...
Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports scored points in the Acropolis Rally when its lead Lancer WRC04, piloted by the all-French crew of Gilles Panizzi/Hervé Panizzi, finished the event in Lamia this afternoon. The Panizzi brothers had been on course to score three drivers’ points for sixth position; however they were robbed when a last minute engine problem dropped them to 10th position after fighting over 377.13 of the roughest and most grueling competitive kilometers in the series.
Commenting on the outcome of the event, Technical Director Mario Fornaris said: "First of all I have to say Gilles has driven an incredible rally and our performance was better than in Cyprus; this is evident from his better stage times, especially in the second leg. I am a little sad about today’s problems because we nearly had a clear rally, but we completed the event and this is important. Dani did a great job too; he respected the team’s wishes and got the experience we expected of him. The whole team has worked very hard to get both drivers here and for that I thank them".
Adding to his comments, Gilles said: "Obviously this afternoon is disappointing for the engineers and mechanics, but I fought for them to bring the car to the finish. I am very happy to score manufacturer points for Mitsubishi. Our performance was obviously better than Cyprus and I’m happy to finish such a tough and hard event. I feel an upward trend".
The third and final day of the Acropolis Rally saw a total of 38 classified and 12 ’SUPERally’ contenders leave Lamia at 06:30 hrs for two loops of three stages totaling 98.50 competitive kilometers. Gilles and Hervé Panizzi maintained their pace in the opening three stages and held a comfortable advantage over their nearest rival, the intention to drive for the finish and valuable points. However, in the fourth stage of the leg (SS 20), the engine dropped onto three cylinders and they were forced to limp through this and the following two stages, down on power and losing time by the minute.
"Dani" Solà and Xavier Amigo, running under ’SUPERally’ regulations, set the Mitsubishi pace in the first loop of stages where they were seventh, eighth and 11th fastest respectively. This afternoon they lost third gear in the first of the repeated stages but improved damper settings saw them arrive back in the final service happy with their first competitive outing in the Lancer WRC04.
"The SUPERally’ regulations were very important to me and the team here and we have gained a lot of knowledge and experience because of this", commented Dani. "The mechanics did a big job to get us back in the rally for the second leg and I am happy to have completed the rest of the route. Life is not always easy, but this is a great opportunity for me to show the team my qualities, and although we had some problems we have all learned a lot. Mario (Fornaris) changed our damper settings this afternoon and even though we had no third gear, our times improved; for sure we are making progress".
Despite not being a qualifying round of the FIA PWRC, competition in the group N category was fierce and local man Efthimios Halkias finished third of the contenders in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.
The seventh round of the FIA World Rally Championship remains in the eastern Mediterranean but takes the contenders to the Asian region of Turkey for the third consecutive rough and rocky gravel rally. The Rally of Turkey (June 24-27) poses yet another fresh challenge for the Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports WRC team.
News from our rivals...
Petter Solberg claimed his second victory of the season, winning the event by a margin of 18.4 seconds over Sébastien Loeb, the Xsara WRC driver’s eight points elevating him and Citroën into the number one slot in both Championships. Harri Rovanperä ultimately finished third in the Peugeot after a titanic battle with Loeb, the rivals neck and neck throughout the leg. François Duval claimed points for the third time this season; the young Belgian steering the Focus to fourth position. Daniel Carlsson finished fifth in a Bozian Racing Peugeot 206 WRC and Manfred Stohl rounded off the top six positions. Janne Tuohino and Aris Vovos claimed the final drivers’ points and Carlos Sainz, who lost time in the opening leg with damper problems, picked up three points for Citroën, despite finishing 19th.