The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports WRC team completed a successful Acropolis Rally, its crews bringing both cars to points-scoring finishes in what is viewed as one of the toughest rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship. Harri Rovanpera and ...
The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports WRC team completed a successful Acropolis Rally, its crews bringing both cars to points-scoring finishes in what is viewed as one of the toughest rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship. Harri Rovanpera and Risto Pietilainen headed the assault and brought their Lancer WRC05 home in sixth position, while team-mates "Gigi" Galli and Guido D'Amore finished hot on their heels in seventh.
"After three long and tough days we have both cars at the finish and in the points," said Isao Torii, Head of Mitsubishi Motor Sports. "Both crews did a good job and it was nice to have excitement in the closing leg with Harri fighting for fifth. We have completed the first half of the season with some quite good results, because the reliability of the car is so much better. We discovered some things where we can improve, so we are ready to fight in the second half of the season and will be challenging for podiums hopefully."
The final leg of the Acropolis Rally, the eighth round of the FIA World Rally Championship, took in just four stages, three of which were completely new. In total, the route took in 98.79 competitive kilometers before the finish back in Lamia at 14:25 hrs this afternoon.
Harri Rovanpera and Risto Pietilainen had a clean run through the first two stages. However they suffered a tire vibration during both. They nevertheless set top times and were ready for an all-out assault on Mikko Hirvonen for fifth position this afternoon. However, although their tire choice was correct, the conditions were tough and they returned to Lamia in sixth position.
"It was really good to be in a battle and to finish sixth and get points in a rough rally like Greece is good news," said Harri. "It's been a hot weekend and I'm happy our car has worked so well. Every stage was nice, we had no dramas and although the conditions were maybe a little easier than previous years, it was still a normal Acropolis. We've fought all weekend and sixth didn't come easily; I'm especially happy for Mario (Fornaris) that we had a good result on his last rally with the team."
Team-mates Gigi Galli and Guido D'Amore maintained a safe speed today, the pair learning all the way and enjoying an almost trouble-free Acropolis Rally. They kept seventh throughout the leg and held off Peugeot's Markko Martin to the end.
"Everything has gone the right way for us; I am happy," said Gigi. "I have to say this was always going to be the hardest rally of the year for me, because of my lack of experience, but things have worked well, the car has been very good and I think the whole team should be pleased for a good job. What I can say is that the rally was easier than I expected; I thought it would be rougher from what everyone said."
Adding to the drivers' comments, Technical Director Mario Fornaris said: "This is a very good result on a difficult rally. Our cars were on the pace the entire event and to have the drivers setting top times throughout is a good feeling. We must be happy with the reliability and I congratulate everyone in the team for a good and successful weekend."
The ninth round of the FIA World Rally Championship takes the crews to South America for Rally Argentina (July 14-17). From the hot Mediterranean summer, the series heads to mid-winter weather and Harri Rovanpera will again be joined by Gigi Galli in the second Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05.
News from our rivals
Sebastien Loeb reigned supreme again and claimed his fifth consecutive victory in Lamia this afternoon. It is also the Citroen driver's sixth win of the season and gives him an overall advantage of 23 points in the Drivers' Championship with Citroen also taking the lead in the Manufacturers' Championship. Toni Gardemeister equaled his best result this season by finishing second ahead of Carlos Sainz, the Spaniard once again fulfilling his points-scoring role for Citroen. Marcus Gronholm finished just off the podium in fourth - having lost time yesterday with a broken drive-shaft - and Mikko Hirvonen claimed an impressive fifth in a 2003 specification Focus.