Galli's "near perfect" day

Gigi Galli's fastest stage time on SS6 of the Swedish Rally today was the first for an Italian in the World Rally Championship since Piero Liatti in 1998

Galli's "near perfect" day

Despite this being his first attempt at a snow rally in a World Rally Car, Galli ended the opening leg in fourth place, having run one place higher after the fourth stage. The ebullient Galli admitted he was as surprised as anyone by his position and performance.

"Today has been near perfect," he said. "We had a half spin on the first stage this morning, but otherwise it has been very good. The fastest time was fantastic - the stage went so well. I can't remember making a single mistake in there. This kind of day is very important for the team, but now I have to stay very concentrated for the next two days."

Galli's team-mate Harri Rovanpera, winner of this event in 2001, ended leg one in eighth place, struggling to find the right set-up with the car.

Isao Torri, Mitsubishi team principal, said: "I am happy with both of the drivers today. Gigi has surprised me, he has performed very well all day - not just in his fastest time. It would be nice if Mitsubishi could get more fastest times tomorrow, but there is no pressure on the guys. We need the experience here."

Mitsubishi has struggled since switching from the old Group A Lancer to the WRC version in late 2001, but the team enjoyed a spectacular start to the 2005 season when Gilles Panizzi took third place on the Monte Carlo Rally.

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