Mitsubishi Motors' WRC Team Set For Another 'New' Rally Tokyo, April 13, 2004 -- After scoring points in Mexico in its first gravel rally since returning to the FIA World Rally Championship, the Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports Team is looking ...
Mitsubishi Motors' WRC Team Set For Another 'New' Rally
Tokyo, April 13, 2004 -- After scoring points in Mexico in its first gravel rally since returning to the FIA World Rally Championship, the Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports Team is looking forward to heading to familiar territory around Auckland for the fourth round of the series: Propecia Rally New Zealand (April 15-18). The event also qualifies for the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship and all 20 of the registered crews will be competing, setting the scene for one of the most fiercely-contested events in the championship.
"Of course we are trying to solve the problems we had in Mexico and I am confident the engineers have done a lot of work on this," said team-leader Gilles Panizzi, who has only previously competed in New Zealand once. "After this test in France, we move to Chateau Lastours for another five days on bad gravel, which should hopefully also help us. The car is getting better, especially with the general set-up and suspension settings, but we cannot find one second per kilometer in each test. But I am happy with the team and engineers; there is a very competitive feeling and I am looking forward to New Zealand. Of course I hope to do a little better than in Mexico and I hope, hope, to win more points."
Finnish team-mate Kristian Sohlberg, who has contested Rally New Zealand twice and netted an FIA Production Car World Rally Championship victory in Mitsubishi machinery in his first outing in 2002, said: "I have some gravel testing in France before New Zealand and hopefully the car will be better than it was in Sweden. Again, the biggest thing for me is to get to the finish and hopefully we will have good reliability. I really like the roads in New Zealand, they are very fast and flowing and seem to suit my style."
After a host of new rules and regulations coming into force in the opening three rounds, Rally New Zealand poses yet more changes for the teams and crews. The event will be run in accordance with the 'Mille Pistes' system, whereby crews also recce the stages on the same day they are run competitively.
The competitive action starts on Thursday April 15, with two runs through the now famous 2.1 kilometer super special stage in Manukau City. Friday's first full leg of competition takes the crews 127 kilometers north of Auckland for seven special stages and 141.92 competitive kilometers, all based around the service park at Paparoa. The second leg returns to the same region for eight stages covering 138.84 kilometers while the final leg on Sunday heads nearly 160 kilometers south for two loops of three famous stages based around the coastal service park at Raglan. In total, the 2004 Rally New Zealand covers 23 special stages and 395.50 competitive kilometers in a total distance of 1,398.36 kilometers.