The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports crew of Kristian Sohlberg and Kaj LindstrÃ¶m were forced into a disappointing retirement during the second leg of Rally Finland after upping the pace and trading split times with the leading crews. Team-mates ...
The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports crew of Kristian Sohlberg and Kaj Lindström were forced into a disappointing retirement during the second leg of Rally Finland after upping the pace and trading split times with the leading crews. Team-mates Gilles and Hervé Panizzi hold 11th place in this, the ninth round of the FIA World Rally Championship.
"It was bad luck for Kristian and just one of those things you have to accept", commented Sven Quandt, Head of Mitsubishi Motorsport. "These young guys have to push, if only to find out where the limits are and these things can happen. Kristian has driven very well, especially today, and we are very pleased with his performance as he also made no mistakes. The car has run well with no technical problems and showed its potential, so this is also very positive for us".
The second leg of Rally Finland was quite possibly one of the classic days of the season with some of the most famous and spectacular stages in the entire Championship. Wide, fast and flowing Tarmac-like roads snaked their way through the forests and the eight-stage, 167.80 competitive kilometer leg included two runs at the daunting Ouninpohja stage, famed for its roller-coaster jumps and succession of corners over blind crests.
Kristian and Kaj Lindstrom held eighth position in their Lancer WRC04 when they were forced into retirement in stage 14, the famous Ouninpohja stage that is also one of Kristian’s favorites.
"We were a few centimeters off line when we hit a small dip in the road which sent us off into a ditch", commented Kristian. "We then hit a stone, lost the right rear wheel and essentially took out the whole corner of the car. It then spun backwards for 100 meters and that was that. We weren’t even pushing hard; we were going the same speed as we have all rally and taking no risks. It’s all the more disappointing as both Marcus Grönholm and François Duval both then had problems, and you never know what could have happened if we were still in the rally". Due to a combination of time and damage, the crew will not re-start the final leg.
Team-mates Gilles and Hervé Panizzi have moved two places up the leaderboard and now hold 11th, although the French crew suffered with charging problems in the second stage this morning.
"It was an alternator problem but otherwise things have been okay", commented Gilles. "We are getting more and more experience of the car in these conditions and are gaining very useful experience of the stages in Finland. Obviously this brings more confidence kilometer by kilometer".
Mitsubishi driver "Gigi" Galli will start the final leg of Rally Finland leading the Group N category. Driving a privately-run Lancer Evolution, the Italian has had category wins in all but one of today’s stages and leads his nearest rival by nearly three and a half minutes.
The final leg of Rally Finland covers just two loops of two stages over 95.26 competitive kilometers. The route takes the crews out to the west of the University town of Jyväskylä and promises yet more fast and furious action before the finish at 15:26 hrs.
News from our rivals...
Marcus Grönholm continues to lead Rally Finland, despite losing fourth gear in the Peugeot 307 WRC this afternoon. His 35.1 second advantage may well look healthy going into the final day of competition, however the Finn will be all too aware that another 95 kilometers of competition can still throw up surprises and his first win since Argentina 2003 is far from secured. Markko Märtin, second, has been pushing hard all day; however last year’s Rally Finland winner is not convinced he can overhaul Grönholm without some outside assistance! Carlos Sainz has moved up into third position and team-mate Sébastien Loeb has rocketed up the leaderboard into fourth from an overnight seventh. Janne Tuohino has seemingly just not had the pace today and has slipped to fifth, while Jani Paasonen rounds off the top six in the lead Škoda. Sebastian Lindholm, who started the day in second position, was forced into retirement after going off the road on a 90 degree right hand corner. After taking a wheel off running along a ditch, the Peugeot 307 WRC rolled end over end. François Duval, not nominated for manufacturer points in this event, has been another of the losers today. A heavy landing after a jump in stage 14 resulted in a total loss of nearly two minutes, a broken exhaust manifold leaving him down on power and then with a 50 second penalty in service. Petter Solberg, who started today under SUPERally regulations, was withdrawn before the super special stage feeling unwell. He will however restart the final day of competition.