Mitsubishi driver Stohl grabs Group N lead. Mitsubishi Motors driver Manfred Stohl has seized the advantage on the final round of the 2002 FIA Production Car World Rally Championship, Rally Australia, after the first leg. Driving a Mitsubishi ...
Mitsubishi driver Stohl grabs Group N lead.
Mitsubishi Motors driver Manfred Stohl has seized the advantage on the final round of the 2002 FIA Production Car World Rally Championship, Rally Australia, after the first leg. Driving a Mitsubishi Carisma GT, the Austrian has a narrow lead after a hectic day's competition in which Mitsubishi drivers have figured prominently, holding five of the top 10 places, with Peru's Ramon Ferreyros and Finn Kristian Sohlberg still very much in contention for the world title.
While Stohl took the class lead, Italy's Alex Fiorio grabbed third in the World Championship classification in his Lancer Evolution, on his first attempt at the rally in more than a decade.
"Everything is OK now. I had two stages that were not so good, because I used pace notes from 13 years ago and I had to understand again what they meant. It is a difficult rally and there's still a long way to go", Fiorio said.
Ramon Ferreyros has climbed to fourth in the championship running in his Lancer Evolution - a fine performance on his first attempt at this notoriously difficult rally.
"I am getting more used to the roads and how to drive them. It is not as hard as it was on the first few stages, but it's still difficult to come here for the first time and I am not driving like I want to", Ferreyros said.
Kristian Sohlberg was neck and neck with his main World Championship rival Karamjit Singh until he got a puncture, but the Finnish Lancer Evolution driver is fighting on and still holds fifth, with Britain's Martin Rowe in hot pursuit, despite getting a puncture as well.
Stohl has put in a superb drive on a rare Production class appearance in his Carisma GT. "Today has been very good. I am here mainly to keep my knowledge of the roads, but of course a win would be nice!" Stohl remarked.
Still to come...
The second leg of Rally Australia takes the contenders east to the stages around Mundaring and sees the return of the spectacular York and Muresk special stages, famed for their superb scenery and stomach-churning jumps. The route covers 11 special stages and 147.27 competitive kilometres. Weather experts are predicting drier conditions, however some showers are expected in the morning.