At the end of what is likely to be the toughest round of the FIA World Rally Championship, the Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports WRC team claimed manufacturer points with both its Lancer WRC05 cars, one of only two of the six registered teams to do...
At the end of what is likely to be the toughest round of the FIA World Rally Championship, the Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports WRC team claimed manufacturer points with both its Lancer WRC05 cars, one of only two of the six registered teams to do so. Harri Rovanperä/Risto Pietiläinen finished seventh overall and while team-mates Gilles and Hervé Panizzi finished 11th, they claimed the final manufacturer point in the Cyprus Rally.
"After three long and very demanding days, our crews did a good job and brought both cars to the finish", said Isao Torii, Head of Mitsubishi Motor Sports. "To score manufacturer points with both cars on such a severe event was very important and I really appreciate the effort made by the drivers, co-drivers, engineers and mechanics. It was a pity to have some problems, but we have learned a lot which will prove very important for the next two events, in particular. Turkey will be less rough but the temperatures will be higher, but the knowledge we have gained here will help us make good preparations".
The third leg of the event saw an early start for the crews at 06:00 hrs and once again took in two loops of three identical stages. Road conditions were reported to be reasonable and fewer crews experienced major problems, although there was no respite until reaching the finish in the coastal resort of Limassol.
Harri Rovanperä and Risto Pietiläinen had a good run through this morning’s stages, the Finns never outside the top five in each. They maintained their seventh position throughout a trouble-free afternoon, easing the pace to ensure they reached the finish and claimed points for themselves and the team.
"Finally we are at the finish!" said Harri. "We weren’t cruising today, but the gaps in front and behind were big enough that there was no sense in pushing hard and risking the car. These were some of the worst roads I have seen in years, maybe only matched by the Acropolis many years ago. We have a test coming up next week where we can focus on issues from this event and hopefully make some more improvements to help us in Turkey and Greece. Overall I’m pleased; I think without problems we could have been fighting with Manfred (Stohl) and had a very good result".
Rallying brothers Gilles and Hervé Panizzi claimed 11th position in their first competitive outing since Rally México in March. The French pair lost considerable time in the opening leg with engine-related and transmission problems and struggled to make inroads into the leaderboard.
"It was a difficult weekend and it’s nice to finish and get a point for Mitsubishi", said Gilles. "It has been the worst event of the season, in terms of the roughness of the roads, and for various reasons it was simply a matter of getting through the stages".
Summing up the event, Technical Director Mario Fornaris said: "Looking back to before the start, we said we wanted one car in the top five and both in the points; we have achieved this as far as manufacturer points are concerned. There is a little bit of frustration because we could have been better, but I must say it’s been hard work for the entire team on such a difficult, rough and demanding rally".
Round 7 of the FIA World Rally Championship takes the crews across the Mediterranean to Turkey (June 2-5) for another searingly hot and rough gravel event.
News from our rivals
Sébastien Loeb recorded a highly-impressive fourth victory of the season and his third in succession. The Frenchman was never rivaled and he reached Limassol with an incredible four minute 09.5 second winning margin. Manfred Stohl was another revelation. The Austrian was also blisteringly quick from the outset and in a privately-run Citroën Xsara he claimed second overall. The face of the leaderboard remained largely unchanged, although Henning Solberg slipped from third to fourth in his M-Sport-run Focus, the Norwegian losing time when the engine kept cutting out in stage 15. The final podium position therefore went to Markko Märtin, ensuring Peugeot maintained its lead in the Manufacturers’ Championship. Ford drivers Toni Gardemeister and Roman Kresta claimed fifth and sixth respectively, handing Ford its 50 consecutive points-scoring finish. Antony Warmbold was the only leading retirement of the leg, his Focus with no oil pressure on the road section to the first stage.