Mitsubishi ready for last asphalt run of the season. Marlboro Mitsubishi Ralliart completed its final preparations for the 2002 Rallye Sanremo today when the team's registered crews ran the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution WRC2s for the final time ...
Mitsubishi ready for last asphalt run of the season.
Marlboro Mitsubishi Ralliart completed its final preparations for the 2002 Rallye Sanremo today when the team's registered crews ran the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution WRC2s for the final time ahead of tonight's ceremonial start in the centre of the old Riviera resort of Sanremo.
A five-day test two weeks ago on representative asphalt roads near Monte Carlo assisted the team in its preparations for the final sealed surface rally of the season and, while there has only been a three week break in the calendar, Marlboro Mitsubishi Ralliart is encouraged by on-going progress with the Lancer Evolution WRC2. Conditions can however be unpredictable at the start of the Mediterranean autumn, making Rallye Sanremo another tough event for the FIA World Rally Championship contenders.
"The test was actually quite difficult because conditions were wet and very changeable, but we now have a good set-up for that eventuality and there is always a possibility of rain here in the Italian mountains where conditions can change so quickly," commented Chief Engineer Bernard Lindauer. "Since Germany we have reduced the weight of the car by over 35 kilos and done more engine development work and this, combined with the fine-tuning of the set-up, means the drivers are a bit more confident and the car seems to be more positive."
François Delecour and Daniel Grataloup completed just five runs over the two kilometre shakedown road 80 kilometres to the northeast of Sanremo, the French pair satisfied with their preparatory work. "Although the test was wet it gave us a chance to fine-tune the set-up for these conditions, and hopefully these roads should suit the car quite well," commented François. "The engine is feeling very different here with more lower and mid-end torque, which suits my style of driving quite well. The stages are in quite good condition, although maybe we will see them very dirty on the second leg when they are run in reverse. Hopefully we can build on the progress we made in Germany and have a good three days of solid competition."
Team-mates Alister McRae and David Senior similarly only completed four runs and the British duo are looking forward to reaping the benefits of the work put in by the team on the Tarmac-specification Lancer Evolution WRC2. "I never really had a chance to show the potential in Germany after all the development work we'd done, so I'm looking forward to a good clean run and the opportunity to hone the settings further," said Alister. "I am much more confident with the car now and think we keep making small steps forward, which is obviously good."
Adding to their comments, Marlboro Mitsubishi Ralliart Team Manager Derek Dauncey said: "Tyres and weather crews are vital here and we've seen in the past that good information from the stages can reap huge rewards. Conditions can change extremely quickly, but we have an experienced team of people and can hopefully look forward to a good weekend of competition."
The 44th Rallye Sanremo kicks off tonight with a ceremonial start in the Riviera resort at 20:30 hrs however it is not until early tomorrow following morning that the contenders head into the mountains for high-speed action. The opening leg, run to the north of Sanremo, includes eight special stages over 147.25 kilometres.