Rally Mexico: Mitsubishi leg two summary

Panizzi in Eighth For Mitsubishi Team Panizzi defends eighth position despite transmission woes Damaged suspension forces Galli into retirement Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sport experienced a difficult second leg of Corona Rally México under...

Panizzi in Eighth For Mitsubishi Team
Panizzi defends eighth position despite transmission woes
Damaged suspension forces Galli into retirement

Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sport experienced a difficult second leg of Corona Rally México under bright sunshine and 27° C but Gilles and Hervé Panizzi ended the day in eighth position despite battling with transmission and engine complaints. Team-mates "Gigi" Galli and Guido D'Amore were unlucky as a damaged suspension on the opening stage of the day forced the Italian crew into retirement.

Today's leg is the longest of the event covering six stages over 154 competitive kilometers and crews encountered everything from technically challenging tight and twisty sections contrasted with fast and flowing roads, to jumps and spectacular open plains. Conditions were drier and rougher than leg one and the second day has caused upset for many, resulting in no less than 17 retirements.

Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sport lead crew Gilles and Hervé Panizzi suffered transmission problems only minutes after leaving the early morning service and had to struggle through the first group of stages, although they managed to hold onto their eighth position by the midday service. A gearbox change remedied the transmission woes but an overheating engine, thought to be caused by a water leak, in the second set of stages, gave the Panizzi brothers a new concern. Minor adjustments rectified the problem and the French crew continued to defend their eighth position overall by the end of the day.

"I don't know what the cause of the transmission problem was this morning but it was exactly the same as we had in Monte Carlo", explained Gilles. "In service we changed back to yesterday's gearbox and it felt fantastic again but we then had a small problem with the engine. On the slower parts where there were lots of corners it overheated but then it was OK again in the faster sections and we had no real problems on the final two stages. The roads were also hard on the shock absorbers and they received quite a beating".

Commenting on the team's day, Team Technical Director Mario Fornaris said: "Compared to yesterday, the problems we had today were different. We'll just have to wait and see how we go tomorrow!"

Rough conditions took their toll on Italian team-mates "Gigi" Galli and Guido D'Amore and a damaged front right suspension on the opening stage of the second leg prevented the crew from continuing, forcing them into retirement.

"We're not too sure what happened to be honest. The stages were quite rough and I think that was the reason the front right suspension broke about two thirds of the way through the first stage this morning. We managed to make repairs and drive out but we couldn't continue", said "Gigi". "I'm a bit disappointed as I really need to cover as many kilometers as possible in this car for experience. But with rallying you have to expect the unexpected".

The third and final leg tackles the five remaining special stages and 132 competitive kilometers. The 30.47 km Ibarrilla-Mesa, the longest stage of the rally, starts the leg bright and early at 07:17 hrs and is repeated later in the day. Leg three also features the technically challenging 27.85 km Alfaro-Nuevo Valle which is repeated after a run of the shortest, but one of the fastest, stages of the rally, the 15.42 km Derremadero-Comanjilla. Crews return for the León finish at 14:30 hrs (GMT - 6).

News from our rivals...

Petter Solberg relinquished his overnight lead after incurring a five-minute penalty for receiving outside assistance at the final time control before service at the end of leg one. Eager to make up time, the Norwegian powered his Subaru through the day's stages to win them all, promoting him from 13th to fifth. Sébastien Loeb (Citroën), who adopted the lead following Solberg's leaderboard descent, retired at the end of SS 6 after a damaged sump caused a terminal engine oil leak. Ford driver Markko Märtin now leads the rally with Carlos Sainz in second and Fran6#231;ois Duval in third but Marcus Grönholm dropped down the order to sixth after struggling with power steering problems. Hirvonen now lies in fourth ahead of team-mate Solberg. A broken suspension arm in SS 7 also dropped Harri Rovanperä down the order and the Finn finished the day in 16th position.

Mitsubishi Driver Sola Extends Lead On Rally Mexico

Mitsubishi Motors driver "Dani" Solà has pulled out a commanding lead in the Production class on the Corona Rally México, the second round of the 2004 FIA Production Car World Rally Championship, and is the clear favorite to achieve another victory for the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.

The second day of the latest addition to the FIA World Rally Championship provided a range of conditions to test the drivers. After a damp start, it was long, rough, hot and dusty and a heavy retirement rate has already accounted for more than half the starters.

Mitsubishi durability has paid dividends in the sun-baked mountains round León and Lancer Evolution drivers are well represented among the survivors. His nearest rival is Subaru's "Toshi" Arai who lies 3 m 26 sec adrift.

Spain's "Dani" Solà has been in a class of his own in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, confidently extending his lead with every stage and recording two fastest stage times in the Production class. His opponents have long since acknowledged that he is uncatchable.

"Today has been hard, but very good. I have driven fast where it is possible to drive fast and the car is working well. I can slow down a bit now, but I don't want to lose concentration", Solà commented.

Fellow Spaniard "Xevi" Pons has also performed strongly on his first attempt at the rally, climbing to fifth in the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship classification in his Lancer Evolution. "It has been very tough today. We have had a few little problems with the suspension, but we are still here and I think we can score good points", Pons stated.

Japan's Fumio Nutahara has displayed real determination to climb to sixth in the Production classification in his Lancer Evolution, on his first appearance in the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship. "It has been very difficult today. We have had one puncture and two slow punctures. We just want to keep going now and get to the finish", Nutahara said.

Finn Kristian Sohlberg, who is not registered for the Production Championship, has recovered well from getting a puncture in the first leg and set three fastest Production class stage times in his Lancer Evolution. Jani Paasonen unfortunately lost an encouraging third place when he crashed his Lancer on the last stage of the leg.


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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Carlos Sainz , Harri Rovanpera , Marcus Gronholm , Petter Solberg , Sébastien Loeb , Jani Paasonen , Hervé Panizzi , Kristian Sohlberg , Guido D'Amore , Fumio Nutahara , Markko Martin
Teams Citroën World Rally Team