The Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05 showed its asphalt potential in the hands of "Gigi" Galli/Guido d'Amore today when the Italian crew posted fastest time in SS8 and moved up into fourth position overall in Rally Catalunya. However, a wrong pace note...
The Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05 showed its asphalt potential in the hands of "Gigi" Galli/Guido d'Amore today when the Italian crew posted fastest time in SS8 and moved up into fourth position overall in Rally Catalunya. However, a wrong pace note from the recce meant the pair went off the road on the flying finish and were forced into permanent retirement from the event. Team-mates Harri Rovanpera/Risto Pietilainen continue to look for the optimum set-up and although progress is being made, they overnight in 10th.
Today's route took the crews to the north and west of the host town of Salou for another six scheduled stages covering 134.85 competitive kilometers. Each of the stages was a mix of roads used in previous years or ones run in a different direction, so each required new pace notes. However, the action was delayed early this morning, the sheer volume of spectators in the opening stage causing it to be canceled after the passage of just five cars. As a consequence, all remaining crews were awarded notional times.
The Mitsubishi Motorsport crew of "Gigi" Galli and Guido d'Amore set a blistering pace in SS8 this morning, the Italians posting a fastest stage time, beating the lead Citroen by seven-tenths of a second to move into fourth position. But they were forced to retire after an accident on the finish line. As the corner tightened, it became evident the pace note did not reflect the full nature of the bend and the Italians went off, causing too much damage to continue under SUPERally regulations tomorrow.
"It was a long corner which tightened more than we had indicated in our pace notes, basically a wrong note from the recce," said Gigi. "The most disappointing thing is that we don't get the opportunity to learn more and get better experience, as we will be back here for the rally again in six months. But on the positive side, we have made good progress since Corsica and while there is always more to do, we at least have something to feel good about."
Team-mate Harri Rovanpera is still looking to find the optimum set-up, although yesterday's transmission problems have been totally identified and resolved.
"Okay, we are making some progress in certain areas, but there is still more to do," said Harri. "But, on bumpy or downhill sections it feels like the rear is lifting under braking. We need to find another solution for the rear suspension. We are still here though, and we will continue to target a finish tomorrow."
Adding to the drivers' comments, Roger Estrada, Principal Rally Engineer, said: "Harri has had some problems with the car this morning but we are working hard to sort these issues. There have been some handling improvements, but he's still not one hundred percent happy. Gigi started well and it was a shame he went off, but he showed the speed of the car and that makes us positive for the future."
Isao Torii, Head of Mitsubishi Motorsport, added: "Harri has completed the second day and that is important; he has followed our strategy and been consistent throughout the leg. Today we have seen a bit of 'heaven and hell' but this is motorsport; most of the other teams have experienced the same here. For Gigi, we have to accept these accidents can happen and look forward positively. We have one more day and will see what happens."
News from our rivals
Sebastien Loeb has inched out a 57.8 second lead after two of the three legs and the only drivers to have spoiled his string of fastest times were Mitsubishi's Gigi Galli, who won SS8, and Mikko Hirvonen in the M-sport Focus. Citroen looks set to clinch the Manufacturers' title here in Spain, as Francois Duval has retained his second position in the second Xsara WRC. Marcus Gronholm continued to lead Peugeot's assault in third until the final road section back to Salou. Overheating and subsequent engine problems forced the Finn into a disappointing retirement. Fellow Finn Mikko Hirvonen has powered from seventh to fourth, inheriting third, in what is now the fastest Focus. However, Roman Kresta is piloting the lead registered Ford, after Toni Gardemeister went off in SS10 and lost more than 12 minutes. Dani Solà was another casualty of the day, the Spaniard off the road and out of the rally.