Marlboro Mitsubishi Ralliart heads to the final round of the FIA World Rally Championship with determination. The Rally of Great Britain is home territory for the Team and both François Delecour and Jani Paasonen are keen to make a mark with their Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution WRC2, in a rally where everyone will be all-out for victory, being that both Championships have already been sewn up. Since team-mate Alister McRae is still not fully recovered from a mountain bike accident, taking his and co-driver David Senior’s place will be 2002 British Rally Championship runner-up Justin Dale, partnered by co-driver Andrew Bargery.
The Rally of Great Britain is one of the oldest and most prestigious rounds of the World Rally Championship and this year it is being run for the 58th time. The gravel stages in Wales provide some spectacular action for thousands of fans, underlining the rally’s status as Britain’s biggest sporting event and with this year’s Championship titles secured in New Zealand, spectators will be treated to a straight fight for Rally GB honors.
François Delecour has competed in Britain’s round of the World Championship on six previous occasions with three top six finishes. Last year he was sidelined from the event after his and Daniel Grataloup’s Rally Australia accident and again, this year, Daniel will miss the season finale as he recovers from the pairings accident ‘down under’. François will therefore enter the event partnered by Dominique Savignoni, former co-driver to Frenchmen Patrick Bernardini and François Chatriot, and gravel crew to François for the last two and half years.
"I have a very good feeling with Dominique," commented François. "We have competed together in the past and finished the 1999 Rallye Monte Carlo in fourth position in a privately entered car. I like Rally GB I know the conditions and the spirit. For sure I don’t like the fog, anyone who says they do is probably lying, but driving in the wet and mud is ok; the stages are very, very nice actually."
Jani Paasonen and Arto Kapanen will be driving the second Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution WRC2 in Wales and, although the Finnish pair has never previously competed in Great Britain, substantial testing in Wales before Australia has given Jani a taste of what’s to come.
"This year’s Rally GB will be my first," said Jani. "I know the weather can be changeable and of course I hope it snows – it will be much better for me! Seriously, what I really hope is that it’s either completely wet or dry, because as we saw in Australia the conditions can be very difficult when it’s not consistent. I’ve already done one test with the Team and we’re planning a bit more before the start of the event. The aim will be to try and score some more points for Mitsubishi."
Piloting the third Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution WRC2 will be the winner of the 2002 British Rally Championship Super 1600 category, Justin Dale. Justin has a wealth of experience in the British forests, having been competing in the UK since 1992. He has also worked with Mitsubishi, carrying out development testing for the Team and representing it at a variety of levels.
"For me, this is an fantastic opportunity," said Justin. "It’s something every rally driver dreams of – competing on a world championship event with a works team. There will obviously be a bit of pressure on us but we’ll do our best to bring some further points home for Mitsubishi."
Commenting on the car set-up, Team Manager Derek Dauncey said "The car set-up for Rally GB is very similar to that for New Zealand, apart form additional work on the differential strategies and mapping, to cope with potential wet and muddy conditions. The Team has also done a lot of work on tyre compounds and during last month’s test, came up with two more new cutting options. Rally of Great Britain has proved that a good balance between car set-up, handling and the correct tyre choice is vital."
Based in Cardiff, the capital of Wales, the rally takes place from 14th-17th November and covers 1,637.86 kilometres, with 17 stages covering 390.57 competitive kilometres.
For up to the minute information on Rally GB logon to www.ralliart.com.
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