Rally Catalunya: Mitsubishi preview

ANOTHER ASPHALT CHALLENGE FOR MITSUBISHI WRC TEAM IN CATALUNYA Rovanperä and Galli to compete in Spain Hot on the heels of the Rallye de France - Tour de Corse, the FIA World Rally Championship contenders head directly to Spain for the ...

Rovanperä and Galli to compete in Spain

Hot on the heels of the Rallye de France - Tour de Corse, the FIA World Rally Championship contenders head directly to Spain for the penultimate round of the series and the last asphalt event of the season. The Rally RACC Catalunya-Costa Daurada (October 27-30) - replacing the event based in Lloret de Mar - represents another fresh challenge with its new location and route and the Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports WRC team will be fielding two Lancer WRC05s for Harri Rovanperä/Risto Pietiläinen and "Gigi" Galli/Guido d'Amore.

While the nature of this year's rally has changed, Harri Rovanperä has useful experience of the Spanish roads. The Finn has competed here on no fewer than four occasions and while seventh overall is his best result (2002), the experience and knowledge he gained on Corsica of sealed surface competition will once again assist.

"I remember some of these Tarragona stages from years before, where there is good grip and nice rhythm", said Harri. "Spain is a much faster rally than Corsica, so the stages should suit our car more. With Pirelli we have also made progress with the tires and we now know we have a good option for dry conditions and our wet tire was always working well".

This will be the fourth time team-mate Gigi Galli has competed in Spain, the Italian fourth in the FIA Junior World Rally Championship category in 2002 and a fine seventh overall in the Mitsubishi Lancer WRC04 in 2004. He has been nominated for the event to gain additional experience.

"I have to keep in mind my experience; that's the best attitude to have and if things feel okay, then maybe we can do something good", said Gigi. "I go to the rally with good memories as last year I achieved what was then my best result in the WRC. But for sure it will not be an easy event for everyone, as the route is very different and we have to start with new pace notes. I remember some of the stages from 2002 and when I have tested there many years ago, but that is not really a great help. I am however confident that Spain will be better than Corsica for us; we have some solutions and the stages are faster, which will help".

Adding to the drivers' comments, Roger Estrada, Principal Rally Engineer, said: "It will be a good equal challenge as these stages have not been driven for a number of years. The surface will also be different, but there will be plenty of corner-cutting, which is very typical of this rally. Hopefully we will have better performance and we'll be happy if the weather is either dry or wet".

Isao Torii, Head of Mitsubishi Motor Sports said: "I believe we can show a better performance in Spain and improvements with the car. The conditions will generally be more equal for everyone due to the new route and we will be making a big effort to find solutions for the final Tarmac event of the season".

This year's RallyRACC Catalunya-Costa Daurada is centered on the city of Salou and the service park at Port Aventura in the Catalan province of Tarragona, southwest of Barcelona. It is a region that has been visited by the rally every year since it became a qualifying round of the FIA World Rally Championship, however the roads have been improved over the years and 85 percent of the Tarmac will therefore have a different character. Some stages will be familiar while others are totally new, posing yet another challenge for the crews as they compete over roads in the famed Priorat wine region. The country is also renowned for its support of the sport and tens of thousands of fans are expected to flock into the wide and flowing mountain roads. Inclement autumnal weather is also likely to play a factor again and, at high altitude, rain is a distinct possibility.

The start and finish of this year's event will take place in the tourist area of Salou, along the Jaume I promenade, with Thursday morning's final shakedown test taking place in the town of Falset, 39 kilometers from the Port Aventura service park. After the ceremonial start on Thursday evening (October 28), the crews tackle the opening leg of competition on Friday, which takes in six stages, two of which are repeated, and 155.82 competitive kilometers. Saturday's leg is shorter, at 134.85 competitive kilometers, although again over six stages, while Sunday's leg takes in just three stages and 68.08 competitive kilometers. In total, the 41st Rally Catalunya covers 15 stages and 358.75 competitive kilometers in a total distance of 1,341.56 kilometers.


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Series WRC
Drivers Harri Rovanpera , Risto Pietilainen , Gianluigi Galli