TWO MITSUBISHI LANCER WRC05s IN THE PROVISIONAL POINTS RovanperÃ¤ in 7th while Galli drops to eighth with a broken drive-shaft The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports WRC crew of Harri RovanperÃ¤ and Risto PietilÃ¤inen hold seventh position at the...
TWO MITSUBISHI LANCER WRC05s IN THE PROVISIONAL POINTS
Rovanperä in 7th while Galli drops to eighth with a broken drive-shaft
The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports WRC crew of Harri Rovanperä and Risto Pietiläinen hold seventh position at the end of the second leg of the Swedish Rally, the second round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Team-mates "Gigi" Galli and Guido D'Amore, who have been the revelation of the rally, have however dropped from an earlier fourth to eighth in the second Lancer WRC05.
After their electrifying pace yesterday, Gigi Galli and Guido D'Amore continued to set an impressive speed today, despite a cautious approach and no risk strategy. They lost their overnight fourth position to a charging François Duval after stage nine and then dropped another place in the following stage after spinning. However, by the end of stage 11, the Italians had climbed back up to fourth but then suffered gearshift problems and a broken front left drive-shaft in stage 13 which saw them plummet to eighth at the end of the leg.
"It's obviously disappointing but the important thing is that we are still here", said Gigi at the final service of the day. "Eight kilometers into stage 13 we started to have a problem with the gearbox and then just before the finish the front left drive-shaft broke. I don't remember feeling us hit anything, but it was after cutting a corner, so maybe this could have been the problem. In the final super special we then spun a couple of times because we were struggling so much with only rear-wheel drive, gearbox and handbrake problems. Tomorrow we try to do something, but the weather could be a very significant factor".
Adding to his comments, Isao Torii, President of Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports, said: "It was very bad luck for Gigi as he has driven such a good rally so far. I am confident he can climb a few places up the leaderboard tomorrow though. Harri now seems to have more confidence and will hopefully feel he can attack tomorrow".
Team-mates Harri Rovanperä and Risto Pietiläinen struggled to find the optimum set-up this morning and reverted back to their original settings, which resulted in a better feeling and an increase in confidence. The Finnish pair overnight in seventh position, just over 10 seconds ahead of their team-mates, despite suffering similar gearshift problems.
"We went back to our original set-up after the first two stages and things were a bit better and I am understanding the car more", commented Harri. "We then had a problem with the gearshift in the last long stage and it's good to have got to service. Generally my confidence is better and hopefully we can keep improving. The top cars are in their own battle, but we will try to be competitive with the rest".
Adding to the drivers' comments, Technical Director Mario Fornaris said: "All in all it was a good day for us. We always kept the same pace and fought within the top five. Small things, like Gigi's broken drive-shaft, are disappointing but I am confident he can continue setting top stage times tomorrow. Harri is generally more confident and will hopefully show his pace tomorrow".
The second leg of the Swedish Rally - the longest of the event - took in another seven stages and 139.53 competitive kilometers. After leaving Karlstad at 05:50 hrs, the crews headed north to Hagfors from where the chilly -7 degree action was based. The leg also took in the longest stage of the rally - Lejen at 26.40 kilometers.
The third and final leg of the Swedish Rally starts from Karlstad on Sunday morning and includes two loops of three identical stages totaling 113.86 competitive kilometers, before the finish in the host town at 15:04 hrs.
News from our rivals...
Petter Solberg and Marcus Grönholm continue to dice for victory, the pair trading times and the lead stage by stage. At the end of the leg, Solberg takes the advantage but a mere 12.6 seconds is all that separates the Subaru and Peugeot rivals. Sébastien Loeb maintains third position, but engine problems could well blight the Frenchman in the closing leg. Markko Märtin moves from an overnight sixth to fourth in the second Peugeot, while Toni Gardemeister has also climbed from seventh to fifth in the lead Ford. François Duval was the greatest loser of the leg, the Belgian Citroën driver plummeting down the leaderboard from fourth position when he had to stop and change a puncture. Mattias Ekström, in his first outing in the Škoda Fabia WRC, started the leg in ninth position but the reigning DTM Champion lost time with broken power steering. He now overnights in 16th position.
MITSUBISHI LANCER EVOLUTION DRIVERS CONSOLIDATE POSITIONS ON SWEDISH RALLY
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution drivers look poised for a strong points haul on the Swedish Rally, the first round of the 2005 FIA Production Car World Rally Championship. Italy's Angelo Medeghini holds an encouraging fourth place on his first event in a Lancer Evolution and Spaniard Xavier Pons has recovered to climb to fifth.
Conditions remained exceptionally tricky during the second leg, the longest of the rally. There were occasional flurries of snow in the Värmland district of central Sweden, but drivers also had to cope with sheet ice and stretches of gravel that had the potential to wreck studded tires, especially when stages were repeated. The spectacle attracted fans in their thousands, the forests playing host to a winter carnival, as supporters cheered on their heroes, lighting fires to ward off the sub-zero chill.
Angelo Medeghini has displayed an admirable blend of judgment and composure on his first rally in seven years. Realizing that he could not challenge the leaders, he set out to gain points in his Lancer Evolution and having improved differential settings, he has gone from strength to strength.
"These are incredibly difficult stages to drive because the grip changes all the time, but the feeling is OK", he said. "I am beginning to understand the car, but finishing is our absolute priority".
Xavier Pons has exploited a new rule allowing competitors to re-start after an accident or mechanical problem. A string of highly-competitive times have promoted the Lancer Evolution driver to a remarkable fifth place.
"The main things are to gain experience and score points", said the Spaniard. "I am pleased with our times today and the car has been very good all the time. It's very difficult to drive when the surface changes all the time though".
Japan's Fumio Nutahara also rejoined the rally and shared a fastest category stage time with Pons in his Lancer Evolution on one stage while climbing to sixth in class. It was a heartening achievement on his first attempt at the Swedish Rally and his first rally on studded tires.
"It's very slippery, even with the studded tires. I was a bit nervous after yesterday, but everything is going well now and it's nice that we can maybe score points", Nutahara said.
The third, concluding leg promises to be a true sting in the tail. Competitors face another six stages, totaling 113.86 competitive kilometers, before the finish in Karlstad.