Mitsubishi on track for point with Delecour. The Marlboro Mitsubishi Ralliart crew of FranÃ§ois Delecour and Daniel Grataloup arrived back in Sanremo at the conclusion of the second leg of the 11th round of the FIA World Rally Championship in...
Mitsubishi on track for point with Delecour.
The Marlboro Mitsubishi Ralliart crew of François Delecour and Daniel Grataloup arrived back in Sanremo at the conclusion of the second leg of the 11th round of the FIA World Rally Championship in 10th position. The Lancer Evolution WRC2 pairing are however sixth of the registered cars and on course to score a point for Mitsubishi in the final asphalt rally of the 2002 season.
The second day of Rallye Sanremo started early this morning, 44 of the original 53 competitors leaving the Mediterranean resort at 06:00 hrs for another six stages and 150.57 competitive kilometres. Despite forecasts of thunderstorms, the day dawned bright for the longest leg of the event, which included two runs at the awesome 42.31 kilometre Colle Langan stage, however weather conditions deteriorated as the afternoon wore on and tyre choice for the final two stages proved difficult. Rainstorms in the mountains suggested the need for wet weather tyres, however with the choice having to be made in the service park over an hour beforehand, many were caught out as the rain stopped, roads dried out and cut tyres proved to be the wrong decision.
Following the withdrawal of Alister McRae/David Senior by Marlboro Mitsubishi Ralliart earlier today, hopes now rest with the team's French crew. A loss of boost in the opening stage dropped precious time and two positions, which were swiftly made up in the following stage with a ninth fastest time. "A clip on the turbo pipe came loose and we lost boost about halfway through stage nine," commented François. "It was obviously something we could repair at the end of the stage, but we were still a bit stressed going into Colle Langan and lost a bit of time as a result.
"We had a couple of vibrations in the last stage which developed towards the second half of the stage, but apart from the time loss this morning, the day's been okay. There's quite a gap between us and Colin (McRae) now, so it'll be difficult to do anything about that, but obviously it's good to be in the manufacturer points for Mitsubishi so we'll continue pushing as hard as we can."
Adding to his comments, Marlboro Mitsubishi Ralliart team manager Derek Dauncey said: It was frustrating for François to lose 30 seconds this morning with the loose turbo pipe, but we're pleased with the time he did on the first long stage and happy to end the day in the points again. Tomorrow is still going to be quite a difficult day with two loops of 44 kilometres. But, as we've seen on the last stage today, anything can happen so it's always worth pushing."
Gilles Panizzi, currently considered to be the fastest asphalt driver in the world, has maintained his advantage at the head of the leaderboard, the Frenchman holding a 22.1 second lead over Peugeot team-mate Marcus Gronholm. Richard Burns held third until a charging Petter Solberg (Subaru) finally managed to overhaul him in the last stage after a day-long battle. Burns is now fourth but just a handful of seconds ahead of Ford's junior driver Markko Martin, who has consistently outshone 1995 World Champion and team-mate Colin McRae on this event. Sixth is held by Jesus Puras in a semi-works Citroen with Cedric Robert a fine seventh overall in a semi-works Peugeot. Colin McRae has moved up the leaderboard to eighth, however the Scot has suffered with differential problems and admits he has not been on the pace and is finding it difficult to get into a good rhythm. Harri Rovanpera has clawed his way into ninth, giving Peugeot and Citroen no fewer than six of its cars in the top ten. Leading retirements today include Philippe Bugalski (Citroen) who went off in stage 10, blocking the road for some of the leading contenders. Subaru driver Achim Mortl has also joined the list of retirees, the Austrian out going off the road backwards in stage 10 and hitting a concrete bridge. Heavy accident damaged, combined with blurred vision from hitting his head on the roll cage, resulted in a trip to hospital for precautionary scans. He has however been confirmed fit and well. And, in the final stage of the day, Toni Gardemeister (Skoda) retired from 10th position having hit a wall, and Freddy Loix lost over 23 minutes when he hit a rock and took out the left rear corner of the Hyundai. The Belgian was fortunate to be able to limp back to service where his mechanics were able to facilitate repairs and keep him in the rally. He has however dropped from eighth to 30th.
Still to come...
The final leg of Rallye Sanremo returns to the north of the coastal resort for the concluding four stages, each of which is a repetition of those run previously. It is the shortest leg of the event covering just 88.02 competitive kilometres and brings the crews back to Sanremo for the finish at 15:00 hrs (local).