NESTE RALLY FINLAND (21-23 AUGUST) 1998 WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 10 1998 NESTE RALLY FINLAND Thursday 20 August TEAM MITSUBISHI RALLIART AIMS FOR RALLY FINLAND RECORD WITH MITSUBISHI LANCER AND CARISMA GT ...
NESTE RALLY FINLAND (21-23 AUGUST) 1998 WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 10
1998 NESTE RALLY FINLAND Thursday 20 August
TEAM MITSUBISHI RALLIART AIMS FOR RALLY FINLAND RECORD WITH MITSUBISHI LANCER AND CARISMA GT Team Mitsubishi Ralliart is aiming for two unique records on the Rally Finland, the 10th round of the 1998 World Rally Championship, with a strong team of Lancer Evolutions and Carisma GTs. The team is hoping to become the first manufacturer to win the rally four times in a row, while lead driver Tommi Makinen is bidding for a fifth successive victory. Mitsubishi faces daunting opposition on the fastest, most hotly fought rally in the world. Average speeds of up to 120 km/h and the innumerable jumps that pitch the cars into the air for metres at a time as they race through Finland's lakeland mean that previous knowledge and absolute commitment are vital. As a result, the Rally Finland is the success that the drivers prize the most. Double World Champion Makinen, co-driven by fellow Finn Risto Mannisenmaki, is quietly confident in his Michelin-equipped Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution in spite of the intense pressure. "I need a fifth win, not because it's nice to win here, but for the championship. I think it will be good, because we did three days testing here and we are better prepared than in the past," Makinen said. British crew Richard Burns/Robert Reid face a searching test, as it is their first attempt at this exceptionally demanding rally. Burns is counting on the proven speed and reliability of his Mitsubishi Carisma GT. "Testing helps of course, but you really have to learn the stages here. It's just so quick, with a lot of fifth and sixth-gear crests and corners, and sometimes you don't know where the car will take off," Burns stated. Germany's Uwe Nittel, co-driven by Swede Tina Thorner, is attempting the rally for the third time, but the Carisma GT driver knows that success will not come easily. "The opposition is incredible, but last year I finished seventh, so it would be nice to do even better this time," Nittel said. "We have prepared thoroughly for the event, but it's hard to plan tactics, because we aren't sure about the weather, although rain is forecast. Clearly, the second leg is going to be the critical one, because of the length and difficulty of the stages," commented Team Mitsubishi Ralliart Team Manager Phil Short. "Nothing is predictable in rallying, but we can say our car is one of the best," added Team Manager Ingolf Raiss. Mitsubishi has high hopes in Group N, the production car class. Both championship leader Gustavo Trelles of Uruguay and nearest rival Manfred Stohl of Austria are present, and the Lancer Evolution drivers are supported by a host of top Scandinavian drivers in Lancers and Carisma GTs. The formidable performance of Mitsubishi's showroom cars makes success more than likely. The 1271-kilometre rally starts on Friday at 13.00 for a loop of nine stages, totalling 90 kilometres, north of Jyvaskyla.