WRC

TAP Rallye De Portugal: Background Info

1998 WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 4 TAP RALLYE DE PORTUGAL (22 MARCH - 25 MARCH) [Background Information] The Rally of Portugal sees the WRC moving back to mainland Europe, the home of rally, and the first event of 98 to be held mainly ...

1998 WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 4 TAP RALLYE DE PORTUGAL (22 MARCH - 25 MARCH)

[Background Information]

The Rally of Portugal sees the WRC moving back to mainland Europe, the home of rally, and the first event of 98 to be held mainly on European gravel roads. Portugal is one of the classic rallies that has been in WRC series right from the start. It is bordered by Spain on the north and east, and by the Atlantic Ocean on the south and west, temperatures will vary according to elevation. 1997's Rallye De Portugal will most probably be remembered for the cancellation of Special Stage One due to damage to Makinens brakes caused by FIA weighing equipment.

So far this season we have seen 3 winners in 3 different cars (counting the Mitsubishi Carisma of Richard Burns as a different car). Juha Kankkunen is the only top driver who has finished the first 3 rallies in the points (2nd Monte Carlo, 3rd Sweden and 2nd (team orders) in Safari) and he leads the championship along with Carlos Sainz on 16 points. Mitsubishi leads the constructors championship but the reliability of the Ford Escort is starting to become evident (2 seconds, 2 thirds, 1 sixth and 1 ninth). Kankkunen has yet to squeeze a win out of the Escort, but as the past has proven, reliability is just as important as outright wins. It was in 1995's Rally of Portugal that Kankkunen scored his 1000th point in WRC events.

This years Rally of Portugal is run over a total distance of 1,701.81 kms. The 28 special stages (six run twice, one run twice in part) will cover a distance of 380.18 kms. Only 1 night stage will be run. After the gruelling Safari Rally (which is like running 3 WRC events in 3 days), the drivers will be honing their skills of speed and accuracy as even the slightest drop in pace will see them get left behind.

Portugul is only 4 weeks before the rally of Catalunya and is often a good indication of a teams form in Europe. It'll be dry and dusty, but suited to the European style of cars.

An interesting note is that former F1 driver, Pedro Chaves makes his WRC debut in a Corolla WRC, it will be interesting to follow his progress.

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[The Leading Teams]

Toyota Castrol Team Team Toyota Europe http://www.tte.de

The 98 Rallye De Portugal will see three Toyota Corolla WRCs contest this round, with Carlos Sainz and Luis Moya, Didier Auriol and Denis Giraudet joined for the occasion by test team duo Freddy Loix and Sven Smeets. "Fast" Freddy had a remarkable run in 1997 Rallye De Portugal, finishing outright second.

TTE had a difficult time introducing the WRC Corolla to the new season, conditions on each rally have been so varied that a successful formula has been difficult to achieve. Auriol now believes that Corolla is ready for a second victory of the season.

Carlos Sainz is equal leader with Juha Kankkunen in the 1998 World Rally Championship for drivers, with one win in Monte Carlo and a second place in Sweden. Sainz was disappointed in being forced to retire from the Safari Rally, but recognises it as probably the toughest event of the season. With Portugul so close to Spain, it's like a second home event for the Spaniard. Expect to see TTE do well.

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Mitsubishi Ralliart http://www.mitsubishi-motors.co.jp/motorsports/

Both Tommi Makinen and Richard Burns have won events for Team Mitsubishi Ralliart this year. the Lancer Evolution and the Carisma GT have proved very reliable and as a consequence Mitsubishi lead the manufacturers championship. Joining Makinen and Burns in the Rallye De Portugul is German Uwe Nittel in another Carisma GT. Nittel is usually seen in a group N car.

Last year Makinen won the Rallye De Portugal by an amazing margin of 4 minutes and he is confident of victory this time round. "I think we have shown that the Lancer can win anywhere and I am very confident for Portugal," said Makinen. "Still it will be difficult to win. There is a lot of opposition and I think it will be flat out from start to finish."

It was only going to be a matter of time before Richard burns was going to stand at the top of the podium and he picked probably the toughest event to do it in, the 1998 Safari. He will be brimming with confidence going to Portugal.

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Subaru World Rally Team 555 Subaru World Rally Team (media only) http://www.speedmedia.com

Subaru will be looking for a better performance from their drivers and vehicles in the 1998 Rallye De Portugal. So far this season McRae has only been able to pick up 4 points. After good starts in both Monte Carlo and Sweden the Subaru team will be looking to repeat that form after a drama filled Safari. It's not know what exactly caused both Subaru's to break down in the Safari but technicians have vigorously testing all systems to ensure the engine problems don't happen again.

McRae will be once again joined by Liatti in the second of the Impreza 555's. Liatti hasn't won a WRC round since the 1997 Monte Carlo and will be keen to impress once again.

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Ford Motorsport Ford Motorsport press releases http://www.motorsport.co.uk/ford.html

Ford have an excellent start to the season so far, they have a finishing record of 100% and is promising for the rest of the season. Juha Kankkunen leads the world championship and has been the most consistent performer of the season so far. Ford were pleased to secure his services towards the end of last year and with team orders no longer an issue with Carlos Sainz, Kankkunen has been able to drive his smooth and free style without compromise. Ford only trail Mitsubishi by a single point in the constructor's championship and can take the lead in both the driver's championship and the manufacturer's championship with a strong performance at Portugal.

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[1997 Portugal Rally Overview]

Mitsubishi won the Portugal Rally for the first time ever as Subaru were beaten for the first time since Australia last year!

Tommi Makinen was the fourth different driver to win this year. First ever world championship win far a car with sequential gearshift system.

Subaru were thwarted by engine trouble, Ford by propshaft failures.

Spectator safety fears were raised by the rally superspecial stage, run on asphalt on an otherwise gravel rally.

LEG 1 The first stage was cancelled after Makinen's car suffered brake damage caused by an FIA check. Colin McRae took the lead but suffered misfiring, then the engine failed. Armin Schwarz struggled with a broken propshaft and consequent transmission tunnel damage. Carlos Saint retired with transmission failure. Makinen lost the lead in dusty night conditions. 1 Eriksson 1h57m54s, 2 Makinen +14s, 3 Loix + 1m15s, 4 Burns + 1m43s, 5 Madeira +1m56s, 6 Schwarz +3m45s. W2L: Lopes 2h06m22s. Group N: Trelles 2h06m20s.

LEG 2 Makinen won all the stages, and re-took the lead. Kenneth Eriksson retired with engine failure, and Richard Burns retired when his gearbox failed. 1 Makinen 3h22m43s, 2 Loix +3m15s, 3 Schwarz +5ml5s, 4 de Mevius +9m00s, 5 Richelmi +13m55s 6 Kamioka +14m20s. W2L: Lopes 3h37m14s Group N: M.Stohl 3h37m14s.

LEG 3 Makinen held a comfortable lead. In Group N, Gustavo Trelles made the overall fastest time on the final stage of the rally and took the category lead from Manfred Stohl. In W2L, Adruzilo Lopes was slowed by rear axle problems, Harri Rovanpera retired with engine failure and Alister McRae took fastest times on the last six stages and won W2L. 1 Makinen 4h53mOis, 2 Loix +4m05s, 3 Schwarz +6m33s, 4 de Mevius +12m28s, 5 Richelmi + 17m16s, 6 Kamioka + 17m39s. W2L: A.McRae 5h 12m54s. Group N: Trelles 5h10m54s.

(** source = Pirelli World Rallying 1997-1998, Martin Holmes Rallying, 1997)

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[1997 Top 10 Results]

Pos. Driver Car Time Diff

1  Makinen    Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IV        4.53.01
2  Loix       Toyota Celica GT                4.57.06     4.05
3  Schwarz    Ford Escort World Rally Car     4.59.34     6.33
4  de Mevius  Ford Escort World Rally Car     5.05.29    12.28
5  Richelmi   Ford Escort RS Cosworth         5.10.17    17.16
6  Kamioka    Subaru Impreza 555              5.10.40    17.39
7  Trelles    Mitsubishi Lancer Evo III GpN   5.10.54    17.53
8  Stohl      Mitsubishi Lancer Evo III Gp N  5.11.04    18.03
9  A McRae    Volkswagen Golf GTI F2          5.12.54    19.53
10  Lopes     Peugeot 306 Maxi F2             5.13.42    20.41

Stages won by:

Makinen 19 (SS7-8-9-10-14-15-16-17-18-19-20-21-22-23-24-25-27-29-30) Madeira 4 (SS13-23-26-28) Eriksson 4 (SS3-6-11-12) McRae 3 (SS2-4-5) Loix 1 (SS11) Schwarz 1 (SS14) Trelles 1 (SS31)

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[Past Winners:]

1997 Tommi Mäkinen (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 4) 1996 Rui Madeira (Toyota Celica GT4) 1995 Carlos Sainz. (Subaru Impreza 555) 1994 Juha Kankkunen (Toyota Celica Turbo 4WD) 1993 Francois Delecour (Ford Escort RS Crosworth) 1992 Juha Kankkunen (Lancia HF Integral) 1991 Carlos Sainz. (Toyota Celica GT4) 1990 Miki Biasion (Lancia Delta Integral) 1989 Miki Biasion (Lancia Delta Integral) 1988 Miki Biasion (Lancia Delta Integral) 1987 Markku Alén (Lancia Delta HF 4wd)

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31st TAP Rallye De Portugal 98 Official Site: http://www.tap-rallyedeportugal.pt/iindex.html ----------------------------------------------------------- The World Rally Championship Mailing List distributes live information and results regarding each round of the WRC. This list is provided by Dusty Rallying http://dusty.vianet.net.au ----------------------------------------------------------- World Rally Championship Discussion list, brought to you by Arnal Tecnologias de la Informacion S.L. http://www.arnal.es/wr -----------------------------------------------------------

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Tommi Makinen , Adruzilo Lopes , Colin McRae , Carlos Sainz , Freddy Loix , Richard Burns , Harri Rovanpera , Didier Auriol , François Delecour , Alister McRae , Armin Schwarz , Juha Kankkunen , Gustavo Trelles , Luis Moya , Manfred Stohl , Miki Biasion , Pedro Chaves , Markku Alen , Rui Madeira , Uwe Nittel