Rallye Catalunya: Background Info

----------------------------------------------------------- 1998 WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 5 (20 APRIL - 22 APRIL) [Background Information] The Spaniards are fanatical about there home rally and even more fanatical about their national...

----------------------------------------------------------- 1998 WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 5 (20 APRIL - 22 APRIL)

[Background Information]

The Spaniards are fanatical about there home rally and even more fanatical about their national hero, Carlos Sainz. Sainz is treated like a movie star and attracts crowds wherever he goes. While crowd numbers are never actually known, expect much of Spain's population (all 39,000,000) to be willing their hero to victory.

But for the other teams sometimes this can be a blessing, not having the spotlight directly on them for a brief moment. The rally always attracts massive spectator crowds, encouraged by TV coverage, yet the safety of the special stages is excellent. For the last two years the Rally of Catalunya received the "Rally of the Year" Award for being the most improved event.

This years rally will see drivers cover a total distance of 1.471,74kms. There are 19 stages, 7 of which are run twice. The actual competitive stage distance is 400.71kms which looks like a sprint against the 1200+kms of the Safari rally. And a sprint this will be. Top speeds will be amongst some the highest seen on the WRC. The asphalt surface will be adding interest to the rally where F2 cars can run equal times to the 4WD turbo cars. The actual rally takes place mainly around Barcelona, the capital of the province of Catalonia in the Spanish northeast. The weather will be mild, as the rally runs through the mountains and takes place during a southern European spring.

Last years rally came to a nail-biting close on the final stage. Makinen won by a mere seven seconds over Liatti. Expect the competition to be as fierce in 1998.


[The Leading Teams]

Toyota Castrol Team Team Toyota Europe http://www.tte.de

The Spanish round of the World Championmship is the home event of series leader Carlos Sainz and co-driver Luis Moya. The Toyota Castrol Team is also leading the Manufacturers' World Rally Championships (equal with Mitsubishi). Understandable Toyota are confident of a win in Catalunya. Each driver wants to win his home rally and Sainz remains very focused on the task. The second place in Portugal was a very positive sign.

Joining Sainz is regular team mate Didier Auriol. Auriol has been unlucky in the first part of the season and hopes that the Rally of Catalunya proves to be the turning point of his season. Having won the Tour de Corse rally previously Auriol is confident that this round will prepare him for the next event.

It seems Toyota also recognises Auriol's recent bad luck and have nominated the 3rd car of Freddy Loix and Sven Smeets as the points scoring entry in the Manufacturers' series. This is certainly a great piece of news for the Marlboro Toyota Castrol Team Belgium.

Marcus Grönholm and Timo Rautiainen will run in the fourth Toyota Castrol Corolla WRC.

Expect the competition between Sainz, Loix and Auriol to be fierce. Carlos said, "There is such enthusiasm for the rally in Spain that I always like to try and do what I can for the sport." And for the Spaniard this only mean one thing - winning.


Ford Motorsport Ford Motorsport press releases http://www.motorsport.co.uk/ford.html

Fords 100% reliability record in the 1998 World Rally Championship remains intact. Both Juha Kankkunen and Ari Vatanen scored top 10 finishes on the Rally of Portugal and Ford is the only team that can boast the 100% record.

Only Vatanen finished in the points at Rallye de Portugul, whilst Kankkunen and Juha Repo finished seventh just 12.7 seconds away from 6th place Liatti. It's safe to say that the Escort is the most reliable car in the world championship.

With the new and improved engine in the Escort for Rally of Catalunya both Kankkunen, and Thiry (who returns after missing 2 rallies) are looking forward to the event


Mitsubishi Ralliart http://www.mitsubishi-motors.co.jp/motorsports/

Tommi Makinen, returns to Cataluya as the defending champion. It was Makinen's first victory in a WRC tarmac rally and with a further years experience under his belt, he expects to be right at the front.

Joining him is the Safari winner Richard Burns driving the latest version of the Carisma GT. But most interest will be on Makinen in the new Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution V. Uwe Nittel will also join them in another Carisma GT.

[Mitsubishi Evolution V Details]

Whilst the EVO V may look similar to the EVO IV it's under the skin where the real improvements have been made.

Externally the most obvious difference is the small flared wheel arches, these are to accommodate an increase in track width of 20mm at the front and 15mm at the rear. The idea behind the widened track is to improve stability during cornering on asphalt, and increase the steering accuracy. This is a similar philosophy to Subaru's introduction of a wider track with their new 1998 WRCar, though it must be noted that Subaru actually decreased their track width during the season upon recommendations of the drivers.

You will also notice a new front bumper and new ducts in the bonnet. The rear wing is now adjustable. The bonnet and front wings are made from aluminium and the rear wheel arch extensions are plastic.

The Evolution V has a new engine management system with a more complex computer that will enhance the cars response time. A new data logging system will display a lot of extra information so that the co-driver can inform the crew of potential problems earlier. Driver concentration is critical and Makinen will probably be going too fast to notice anything else other then the tachometer.

Mitsubishi hold high hopes for the new car.

"The Evo.V is the latest of the Lancer line, and if recent year's results are any indication it will be a winner like the rest."


Subaru World Rally Team 555 Subaru World Rally Team (media only) http://www.speedmedia.com

After a relatively poor start to the WRC season Subaru came back strong, winning the Rally of Portugal the first true gravel event of the 1998 season. Subaru only finds itself four points adrift from the number one slot in the Manufacturers' Championship.

Subaru's previous record in Spain is impressive with two victories since 1995. The Pirelli tyres seem to like the hard all-asphalt surface.

Competing for Subaru this event is Colin McRae and Piero Liatti. Colin has won here before (1996) and Liatti (who is considered a tarmac specialist) has always put in a strong showing (second in 1997 and 1996, and third in 1995). Although the conditions will allow the Formula 2 cars to be quick once again Subaru are confident that the World Rally Cars will be leading at the finish of the event. Although Makinen won in 1997, Subaru Impreza 555s dominated the leader board with four finishers in the top six.

While Subaru have always openly congratulated the Rally of Catalunya's event organisation, the sheer volume of spectators and their erratic and fanatical approach to speculating can make it quite dangerous.


[1997 Catalunya Rally Overview]

Tommi Makinen scored his, and Mitsubishi's, first asphalt world championship rally win.

The speed of the W2L cars was the sensation of the rally. They were beating the world championship cars! Citroen's ZX Kit Car and 'Eve II' versions of the SEAT Ibiza and Peugeot 306 Maxi made their WCR debuts.

Subaru fell back after Colin McRae punctured and Piero Liatti could not quite match Makinen's pace in the later stages.

Disasters for Ford, SEAT and Skoda.

LEG 1 Peugeots led, but were then delayed: Delecour by power steering trouble, and Paniui on the last stage by a puncture when 17 seconds in the lead! Makinen spun. Both Fords had brake problems.

1 McRae lh14m17s, 2 Liatti +01s, 3 Makinen +12.5, 4 Medeghini +48s, 5 Sainz +56s, 6 Azcona +1mlls. W2L: Azcona lh15m28s. Group N: Trelles lh19m38s

LEG 2 The lead was never greater than three seconds: by evening Makinen and Liatti were exactly equal! McRae stopped to change a flat tyre, fell from second to 12th but climbed back up to fourth. Ford suffered burst silencers: Armin Schwart consequently retired, Carlos Saint was badly delayed. In four stages Panizti climbed from ninth to third.

1 Makinen 3h03mS6s =1 Liatti 3h03mS6s, 3 Paniui +2m30s, 4 McRae +3m32s, 5 Medeghini +3m37s, 6 Madeira +4m14s. W2L: Paniui 3h06m26s. Group N: Trelles 3h20m49s.

LEG 3 Makinen pulled ahead of Liatti. Delecour had outside help to restart from pare ferme, and withdrew before the finish when fifth. Uwe Nittel finished the final stage on three wheels, Saint stopped to change a flat lyre.

1 Makinen 4h08m46s, 2 Liatti +07s, 3 Paniui +3m09s, 4 McRae +3m34s, 5 Medeghini +5m05s, 6 Madeira +6m26s. W2L: Paniui 4h11m55s. Group N: Trelles 4h31m15s.


[1997 Catalunya Rally Results (Top 10)]


POS     DRIVER       CAR                          TIME
1  Tommi Makinen     Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IV     4:08:46
2  Piero Liatti      Subaru Impreza 555 WRC97     4:08:53
3  Gilles Panizzi    Peugeot 306 Maxi             4:11:55
4  Colin McRae       Subaru Impreza 555 WRC97     4:12:20
5  Angelo Medeghini  Subaru Impreza 555           4:13:51
6  Rui Madeira       Subaru Impreza 555           4:15:12
7  Jaime Azcona      Peugeot 306 Maxi             4:16:28
8  Uwe Nittel        Mitsubishi Lancer Evo III    4:17:25
9  Raphael Sperrer   Renault Maxi Megane          4:18:32
10 Carlos Sainz      Ford Escort World Rally Car  4:18:43


[Recent Winners]

1988  Bruno Sabyilean    Lancia Delta HF 4WD
1989  Yves Loubetilean   Delta Integrale
1990  Dario Cerrato      Lancia Delta Integrals
1991  Armin Schwarz      Toyota Celica GT-Four    (82.42kph)
1992  Carlos Sainz       Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD  (81.72kph)
1993  Francois Delecour  Ford Escort RS Cosworrh (91.63kph)
1994  Enrico Bertone     Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD (80.27kph)
1995  Carlos Sainz       Subaru Impreza 555 (93.02kph)
1996  Colin McRae        Subaru Imprela 555 (92.77kph)
1997  Tommi Makinen      Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IV  (92.34kph)


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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Tommi Makinen , Colin McRae , Carlos Sainz , Freddy Loix , Richard Burns , Gilles Panizzi , Didier Auriol , Marcus Gronholm , François Delecour , Armin Schwarz , Timo Rautiainen , Juha Kankkunen , Luis Moya , Yves Loubet , Piero Liatti , Bruno Saby , Juha Repo , Sven Smeets , Angelo Medeghini , Raphael Sperrer , Rui Madeira , Uwe Nittel
Teams Citroën World Rally Team