Mitsubishi Motors Heads into Corona Rally Mexico -Panizzi & Galli contest first North American FIA WRC event in more than 15 years- Tokyo, March 9, 2004 -The third round of the FIA World Rally Championship takes the Mitsubishi Motors Motor...
Mitsubishi Motors Heads into Corona Rally Mexico
-Panizzi & Galli contest first North American FIA WRC event in more than 15 years-
Tokyo, March 9, 2004 -The third round of the FIA World Rally Championship takes the Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports Team to Mexico for the first-ever FIA WRC event to be hosted in the country. Gilles and Herve Panizzi along with teammates "Gigi" Galli and Guido D'Amore will be driving the two registered Mitsubishi Lancer WRC04s and with very few crews having previously contested the event, Mexico could prove to be a more level-playing field for the team. "We are really at the beginning and for me this test is the first real test with this car. Before Monte-Carlo and Sweden it was just to drive the car and see everything," said Panizzi. "Now we have started with the development and okay, I am happy because we find some things and the engineers can find solutions for the suspension, diffs, traction, gearbox, everything. I am happy because the car has progressed and we are going in the right direction. We need time, but the engineers and mechanics do a great job and I am very confident. There is a good spirit, and that counts for a lot."
With the introduction of new regulations, a number of different features will be seen in Mexico. Reconnaissance will take place on Wednesday and Thursday, there will be a reduction in the number of tires permitted on this first gravel round of the season-from a virtually free quantity to a maximum of 10 tires in two patterns per crew per tire change opportunity-as well as flexi-service in the middle of the day. Tires, in particular, will be critical for the registered manufacturer crews and just 60 will be permitted per car during the three days of the rally.
For Gigi, gaining experience in the Lancer WRC04 is his primary focus. "The time in the car is most important," he said. "I didn't get so much time in Monte-Carlo because we went off the road, and I want to know the car very well first. This is a new race for everyone and we don't know the conditions at all, but I hope we can make a good result. With the regulation for the tires it will be difficult for all the teams and we won't know if the choice we made for the rally will be right until the end of the first leg. But Michelin has good experience already and their advice will be very important to us."
Corona Rally Mexico kicks off with what is billed to be a spectacular ceremonial start on Thursday March 11 in Guanajuato, 53 kilometers from Leon. This captivating city is designated a UNESCO world heritage site and has traditionally drawn spectators in their thousands into the narrow streets lined with colorful and ancient buildings. Service for all three days of the rally is based at the Poliforum Expo Center in Leon and the opening leg on Friday takes the crews from here to the first four stages, one of which is repeated, and 108.03 competitive kilometers.
The second leg is the longest and includes 154.34 competitive kilometers run over six stages, 44 percent of the total distance covered during the day. Two loops over three stages-all of which are longer than 23 kilometers-will provide a long and arduous day of competition for the crews before they return to Leon for the overnight halt.
Sunday's closing leg takes in five stages, two of which are repeated, over a total of 132.06 competitive kilometers. The day also kicks off with the longest stage of the rally (Ibarrilla-Mesa) and this 30.47 kilometer stage will be run a second time as the penultimate stage of the event. In total, the route covers 15 stages, 394.43 competitive kilometers in a total distance of 1,040.67 kilometers before the finish in Leon at 14:30 hrs (GMT -6 hrs).