Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports claimed more points on the Rally of Argentina, the ninth round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Harri Rovanpera and Risto Pietilainen battled to the end and finished in a fighting fifth position in the Lancer ...
Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports claimed more points on the Rally of Argentina, the ninth round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Harri Rovanpera and Risto Pietilainen battled to the end and finished in a fighting fifth position in the Lancer WRC05, claiming points for themselves and the team. "Gigi" Galli and Guido D'Amore set a blistering pace early this morning but were forced into retirement with gearbox problems after stage 19.
"Overall we have showed good performance with both the car and crews," said Roger Estrada, Principal Rally Engineer. "Harri drove very well and was, overall, fastest over today three mountain stages; it was good to be fighting hard. It's a shame about Gigi's problems on Friday and today, but in general we have had good pace."
The final leg of Rally Argentina took in two of the Championship's most famous stages high in the Traslasierra Mountains to the south-west of Villa Carlos Paz. Giulio Cesare split two runs through El Condor, both narrow and rocky 2,000 meter altitude stages in spectacular lunar-like landscape. The route then returned to Villa Carlos Paz, where the event reached its climax with two runs around the Pro Racing Super Special stage.
Harri Rovanpera started the leg - where the predicted ice and snow was seen - 11 seconds adrift of Toni Gardemeister and the pair jostled for position throughout the morning. On stages that Harri won last year, the Finn set fourth and two second-fastest stage times to close to within 7.8 seconds of his fellow countryman. However, with just the super special stages remaining, the Finn was unable to overall Gardemeister and claimed fifth overall, 5.6 seconds away from fourth position.
"It's been good to be fighting with top teams and the car has been so good all weekend," said Rovanpera. "Friday was good for us but we lost too much time on Saturday morning when the set-up wasn't right for the conditions. Yesterday afternoon it all came together very well though and the feeling returned and today has obviously been good too, fighting with Toni all the way to the finish. I think we probably lost the fight in the second stage, where there was ice and mud and we had very little grip. If the conditions had been drier throughout, it could have been a different story."
Team-mate Gigi Galli was third fastest through this morning's opening stage, but the Italian then hit gearbox problems in the early part of SS19. Although he reached the finish of the stage, he then retired.
"It's obviously a shame not to reach the finish, but the important thing is that we drove each of the different stages," said Galli. "Generally I have to be very happy because the stages we drove without problems we set good times, especially for only our second time here. The car is very much improved but the next step will come in Finland; then there will be more performance."
The tenth round of the FIA World Rally Championship takes the contenders back to Europe for one of the fastest and most spectacular events on the calendar. Rally Finland (August 4-7) -- in the perceived home of rallying - is renowned for its high-speed jumps and Gigi Galli will once again partner Harri Rovanpera in the second Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05.
News from our rivals
Sebastien Loeb racked up a record-breaking sixth consecutive victory, his seventh of the season and romps further ahead in the Drivers' Championship. Marcus Gronholm pushed the Frenchman hard but ultimately claimed second in the lead Peugeot 307 WRC. Petter Solberg, after problems yesterday, finished on the podium in third after a trouble-free leg. Behind Gardemeister and Rovanpera, Markko Martin remained in sixth and Francois Duval achieved his returning objective of finishing and claiming points for Citroen.