Rovanpera to lead Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi Motors has signed Harri Rovanpera to join Gilles Panizzi and Gigi Galli in its 2005 WRC line-up. The Finn, who drove for the factory Peugeot team last season, has long been connected with a switch to the Japanese squad

Rovanpera to lead Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi has also confirmed that it will make a full return to world rallying, with Rovanpera leading the team and contesting all 16 rounds while Panizzi and Galli will share a second car. The Japanese car maker stepped back from a full campaign last season to concentrate on rebuilding its competitiveness, but stood firm on its promise to return full-time in 2005 with the announcement of a new Lancer WRC05.

"The championship is more and more dominated by gravel rallies and we need a driver who knows all these events very well", said team boss Isao Torii. "Harri Rovanpera is a good loose surface driver, especially on the high-speed events. We feel fortunate that he is joining the team and expect some good performances. He drives consistently and finishes rallies; we will be very reliant on him."

Panizzi is expected to target the sealed-surface events in 2004 - the Frenchman is a renowned expert - and was thanked for his tireless development work during a largely fruitless season. "Gilles has been incredibly supportive of the team and has contributed enormous amounts to our development program", said Torii. "We did not give him the car to challenge, but next year we have big expectations and see him as a potential winner on asphalt, especially in the second half of the season."

The team said that Galli's re-signing was a reward for his commitment in Mitsubishi's Group N machinery in Sardinia as well his seventh place finish in Spain in the Lancer WRC04, and admitted that he may be given a third car for the European events.

"Gigi has made very good progress and although it was very difficult to compare the results of our three young drivers this year, his performances in Sardinia and Spain are what made us decide to retain him in 2005," said Torii.

The new car is an evolution of the WRC04 although it is expected to be a step forward in competitiveness. "We have concentrated very seriously on development of the Lancer WRC since August this year and that strategy paid off in Spain, where the progress we made saw two cars finish in the top seven", Torii explained. "We still have more development work to do.

"An active differential system and modified semi-automatic gearshift will be the main targets in the development program and our primary focus for the first half of the season.

"In October 2003 we announced our team's three-year turn-around program, namely that in 2004 we would come back to the series with the Lancer and then target podium positions in 2005. For 2006, our aim is to claim the world title again; I feel those objectives are on track."

shares
comments
ROC: France wins Nations Cup

Previous article

ROC: France wins Nations Cup

Next article

Heikki Kovalainen: Finland's new superstar

Heikki Kovalainen: Finland's new superstar
Load comments
How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain Plus

How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain

While all pre-event chat focused on the two World Rally Championship title fighters, their closest challenger charged into the spotlight on Rally Spain. Thierry Neuville's star turn and another strong drive from Elfyn Evans in his fight with Sebastien Ogier made for an intriguing event as the 2021 campaign nears its crunch point

WRC
Oct 18, 2021
The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0 Plus

The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0

Two decades after Petter Solberg emerged as a World Rally Championship winner, his son Oliver is ready to take the WRC by storm. Having secured a part-time WRC factory drive for Hyundai in 2022, he's raring to repay the marque's faith in him and follow in his 2003 champion father's footsteps

WRC
Oct 14, 2021
Analysing the key moves in WRC’s 2022 silly season Plus

Analysing the key moves in WRC’s 2022 silly season

The World Rally Championship will step into a new hybrid era in 2022, but the car changes haven't been the only excitement that has built within the paddock. WRC's 'silly season' kicked off in a big way and all the key driver moves for 2022 - of which there are many - look set to shake things up

WRC
Oct 13, 2021
How joining Finland’s exclusive club was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age Plus

How joining Finland’s exclusive club was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age

By his own admission, the fifth World Rally Championship victory of Elfyn Evans' career in Finland last weekend was the drive of his life. Winning five stages in a row and soaking up huge pressure from the Hyundais on the fastest gravel stages around, the Welshman put in a faultless showing that proved what he is truly made of

WRC
Oct 4, 2021
Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant? Plus

Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant?

OPINION: Thierry Neuville's diatribe against the upcoming Rally1-spec machines that will usher in the World Rally Championship's new hybrid era was remarkable in an era where drivers are usually reticent to air their views in public. But are the Belgian's concerns about speed, safety and cost entirely valid?

WRC
Sep 16, 2021
How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains Plus

How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains

After Kalle Rovanpera’s historic feat at Rally Estonia, the Finn scaled new heights at the Rally of the Gods with a commanding victory. And this time Toyota’s young star demonstrated why the future is bright with his devastating speed and consistency at the Acropolis Rally

WRC
Sep 13, 2021
The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally Plus

The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally

Five drivers have won first time out at the Rally Acropolis, transcending the tough dirt and gravel Greek roads to cement a place in rallying folklore. Here are three of the first-time winners' tales

WRC
Sep 9, 2021
Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble Plus

Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble

From being considered a likely contender to drive the next-generation M-Sport Ford Puma in 2022, Teemu Suninen's abrupt exit has created plenty of questions. The Finn's bid to become his country's next World Rally Championship winner won't be furthered by being sidelined, but there may be reason behind the decision

WRC
Sep 2, 2021