Delecour claims point for Mitsubishi. The Marlboro Mitsubishi Ralliart crew of FranÃ§ois Delecour and Daniel Grataloup claimed a point in the Manufacturers' Championship for Mitsubishi today when they brought their Lancer Evolution WRC2 home ...
Delecour claims point for Mitsubishi.
The Marlboro Mitsubishi Ralliart crew of François Delecour and Daniel Grataloup claimed a point in the Manufacturers' Championship for Mitsubishi today when they brought their Lancer Evolution WRC2 home in ninth position on Rallye Deutschland, round 10 of the FIA World Rally Championship.
The first World Championship round of Rallye Deutschland was won by Citroen's Sebastien Loeb, the 28-year-old Frenchman claiming his first victory at this level and the French manufacturer's only win of the season. While Loeb claims 10 points for himself, Peugeot once again claims maximum points in the Manufacturers' Championship, Richard Burns and Marcus Gronholm finishing second and third of the registered makes. In the series, Peugeot therefore extends its lead to 34 points over second placed Ford. In the Drivers' Championship, Gronholm and Colin McRae remain first and second, with Richard Burns moving ahead of Carlos Sainz into third position.
Fifty of the original 86 competitors started the final leg this morning, the crews heading southeast of Trier for seven special stages and 102.93 competitive kilometres. The action was centred around the picturesque city of St. Wendel, near the tranquil Bostalsee, but dramas began early and battles raged throughout the day.
François Delecour and Daniel Grataloup fared less well today, the French pair down on power for most of the leg. They managed to maintain eighth position until being overhauled by Ford's Carlos Sainz in stage 21.
"At the beginning of the day the engine started to lose boost and therefore power," commented François. "The team couldn't really find the problem and it gradually got worse and felt more like the WRC1 engine because it was less responsive. Overall the feeling from the event has been better. We did some very good times yesterday and have managed to improve the car further, step by step, throughout the event. We've now got some ideas to develop before Sanremo, which hopefully will allow us to show more of the car's potential on an event that should suit us reasonably well."
Adding to his comments, co-driver Daniel Grataloup said: "We're happy to have got through the event without making any mistakes, as that would have been costly. We're glad to have scored a point for Mitsubishi, but of course we would like to have got one for ourselves as well."
Commenting on the performance of the Lancer Evolution WRC2 in its debut competitive outing on asphalt, Marlboro Mitsubishi Ralliart chief engineer Bernard Lindauer said: "The car has definitely progressed on Tarmac and we're getting closer to the top of the leaderboard. We must also remember that this is still an early stage of development for the WRC2 on this surface and we believe there's more to come for Sanremo. We have a one week test planned beforehand, where we hope we can use the experience gained here to push the car's performance even further forward."
Echoing those comments, team manager Derek Dauncey said: "We're very pleased with the car's performance. It's been a difficult event for cars and crews alike, and François' times during leg two, in particular, were very rewarding for the whole team. Overall we've come away from the event very pleased and looking forward to further improvements for Sanremo. Generally, for the first running of Rallye Deutschland in the World Championship, the organisation has coped reasonably well with the challenges."
Few could have imagined the drama that would unfold in the opening stages of the final leg, three of the leading crews hitting problems almost immediately. Armin Kremer, 10th overnight in the Focus, went off the road and into retirement in the opening stage of the day and Harri Rovanpera - who lost the rear wing on the 206WRC in stage 18 - ultimately retired in stage 19, the lack of stability and downforce causing him to go off the road. Carlos Sainz (Ford) also lost two minutes, the Spaniard's Ford refusing to fire-up on the start line of stage 17. Sebastien Loeb claimed a maiden victory, despite some controversy over the route he took on the super special stage at the end of leg two. Richard Burns pushed the Frenchman hard, but the Peugeot driver was ultimately unable to match the pace of the Citroen. Marcus Gronholm claimed third, recording Peugeot's seventh one-two finish of the season in the Manufacturers' Championship. Colin McRae brought the lead Focus home in fourth, with Makinen and Eriksson, in the sole remaining Subaru and Skoda, seventh and 10th respectively.
The FIA World Rally Championship remains in Europe but takes a three-week break before heading to north-western Italy for the final asphalt round in the series, Rallye Sanremo (20-22 September). The green wooded mountains above the Riviera resort are criss-crossed by a maze of twisty roads that wind over narrow passes and through tranquil villages, providing spectacular action for the thousands of fans who passionately follow the event.