The Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05 crew of "Gigi" Galli and Guido d'Amore claimed a personal best in the FIA World Rally Championship today when they finished Rallye Deutschland, the first true asphalt event of the season, in fifth position. The Italians...
The Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05 crew of "Gigi" Galli and Guido d'Amore claimed a personal best in the FIA World Rally Championship today when they finished Rallye Deutschland, the first true asphalt event of the season, in fifth position. The Italians also registered a fastest stage time today in only their second outing on Tarmac in a Mitsubishi world rally car. Team-mates Harri Rovanpera and Risto Pietilainen finished 10th in their first sealed surface event since Sanremo in 2002.
"This result is almost the same as my best-case scenario, which was to finish and get manufacturer points with both cars", said Isao Torii, Head of Mitsubishi Motor Sports. "For Gigi to finish fifth is very good and although Harri was just outside the points, we take great confidence from the fact that the cars had no technical problems over the three days. Gigi's fight today was exciting and to then record a fastest time was fantastic; he has now regained his confidence. Everyone in the team did a great job and it is a teamwork result. Now it is maximum attack for Rally GB and Japan!"
Sunday's closing day of competition took the crews to the wider and more flowing roads in the Saarland region for five stages before returning to St. Wendel for the climax of the event at the 6.24 kilometer spectator stage. Warm sunshine and dry weather were again a welcome sight and while this made conditions marginally easier, the stages were still treacherous and all too ready to catch out the unwary.
Gigi Galli has enjoyed a great battle today, although the Italian was adamant that experience of the stages and completing the rally would always over-ride a fast and furious fight to the finish. He started the day in sixth, and fifth and then two third-fastest times brought the fight to Roman Kresta with the rivals jostling for position. At the mid-leg service, the pair were split by just six-tenths of a second. This afternoon, however, the Lancer WRC05 driver recorded his first fastest time of the event to overhaul Kresta, and then backed it up with second fastest in the proceeding stage to extend his advantage. In the climax stage, Gigi again finished ahead of the Czech driver and claimed fifth overall by 8.7 seconds.
"A very interesting day....!" said Galli at the finish. "I can't really believe it because our goal was to do well but not push hard and go off the road. Everyone in the team worked really well and at lunchtime I felt great support and that gave me real confidence this afternoon. Today, we made no mistakes at all and that makes a difference. It was a very tricky rally and we have made another step forward with the team and also our career. I am really surprised to have done that on this rally!"
Team-mate Harri Rovanpera had also been fighting with Skoda's Jan Kopecky but the Czech driver was forced into retirement after taking the rear left wheel off two kilometers from the end of stage 16. Following this, and "Dani" Solà going off the road and getting stuck in a ditch, the Finn moved up into ninth position. However, this afternoon he slipped back to tenth in the penultimate stage and lost out to Xavier Pons by just 2.4 seconds.
"All the stages in this rally have effectively been new to me and I have only been listening to the notes and trying to stay on the road; I have no preview memories of this event", said Harri Rovanpera. "I am happy our car ran without problems and we reached the finish. We've stalled a couple of times today due to a problem with the handbrake and that's why we lost position, but okay, we have learned a lot and the next two asphalt rallies will be better I think".
Adding to the drivers' comments, Roger Estrada, Principal Rally Engineer said: "I'm very pleased because today we showed the car's performance can be very good. We had no technical problems throughout the event on either car and we have reason to have confidence for the future".
The 12th round of the FIA World Rally Championship takes the teams to Great Britain for Wales Rally GB (September 15-18). Harri Rovanpera and Gigi Galli will again pilot the team's two Lancer WRC05s and the event is also a qualifying round of the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship.
News from our rivals
Citroen notched up its first one-two of the season today with Sebastien Loeb claiming his eighth victory of the season and extending his lead at the head of the Drivers' Championship to 32 points with five events remaining. It is also the Frenchman's fourth consecutive win in Germany. Team-mate Francois Duval repaid the team's faith by claiming second, 37.4 seconds adrift of the reigning World Champion. Marcus Gronholm, winner of his home event in Finland, finished on the podium in third to retain second in the series.