C.E. - The Free Weekly Online Car Magazine


January 18-20

The 1999 World Rally Championship got off to a storming start at Monte Carlo. A new (and possibly illegal) Ford World Rally Car was allowed to begin the rally, having failed scrutineering. Fortunately for Ford the other manufacturers had already agreed to allow the Focus to run under appeal. Mitsubishi, fresh from last year's championship win begun this year with the new Evolution 6 Lancer and Marlboro as a major sponsor. Skoda and Seat both joined the fray with WRC challengers of their own.

Tommi Makinen brought the new Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution to 1st place in the Monte Carlo Rally - click here to go to Mitsubishi's Motorsport page
Copyright 1999 by MMC

In the very first stage, Carlos Sainz (Toyota Corolla WRC) crashed twice, the second time ending his rally. Having lost the final rally last year (and the championship) due to mechanical failure, Carlos was bitterly disappointed to end the first rally in this way. He put the blame on his ice-notes, claiming that there was more ice than reported. His team mate, Didier Auriol also spun in unexpected ice but managed to return to the road to finish in a respectable 4th place overall. The Toyotas were not alone! Subaru's Richard Burns also left the road, as did Ford's other new driver - Simon Jean-Joseph.

The big surprise of the first day, however, was the privately entered Subaru Impreza of Gilles Panizzi and his brother Herve. Their tremendous pace in the ex-Colin McRae Impreza left the works cars behind. For a moment, it looked like their efforts were in vain as the brothers had to resort to pushing the car to restart it (previously a 30 second penalty). Luckily, the penalty was withdrawn and they finished day one ahead of Tommi Makinen in the Mitsubishi and Juha Kankkunen in the factory Subaru.

The controversial new Ford Focus WRC in Monte Carlo. Click here to go to Ford's motorsport site. Photograph provided by Ford

Colin McRae started to enjoy himself as the Ford mechanics modified the Focus, claiming two fastest stage times. This pace and the apparent reliability of the new car rewarded Ford with a podium finish. Not a bad start for a brand-new car. Of course, the result may well be taken away from Ford if the FIA Court of Appeal rule the car out for the remainder of the championship.

After such a promising start Panizzi was soon caught by the major championship contenders - first Makinen, then Kankkunen, then the very-impressive Seat WRC of Piero Liatti. The final standings are then no real surprise. Mitsubishi is obviously well-prepared to defend it's title. It promises to be an exciting season however, as Ford, Toyota, Seat, Mitsubishi, Subaru and Skoda seem very intent on being competitive. Skoda, it seems have some catching up to do, as neither of the cars made the start. Watch this space for the next round....
Race No.
1 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Tommi Makinen / Risto Mannisenmaki Marlboro Mitsubishi Ralliart
2 Mitsubishi Carisma GT Freddy Loix / Sven Smeets Marlboro Mitsubishi Ralliart
3 Toyota Corolla WRC Carlos Sainz / Luis Moya Toyota Castrol Team
4 Toyota Corolla WRC Didier Auriol / Denis Giraudet Toyota Castrol Team
5 Subaru Impreza WRC Richard Burns / Robert Reid Subaru World Rally Team
6 Subaru Impreza WRC Juha Kankkunen / Juha Repo Subaru World Rally Team
7 Ford Focus WRC Colin McRae / Nicky Grist Ford Motor Co Ltd
8 Ford Focus WRC Simon Jean-Joseph / Fred Gallagher Ford Motor Co Ltd
9 Seat WRC Harri Ronavpera / Risto Pietilainen Seat Sport
10 Seat WRC Piero Liatti / Carlo Cassina Seat WRC
11 Skoda Octavia WRC Armin Schwarz / Manfred Hiemer Skoda Motorsport
12 Skoda Octavia WRC Pavel Sibera / Petr Gross Skoda Motorsport
16 Subaru Impreza WRC Bruno Thiry / Stephane Prevot Subaru World Rally Team
17 Subaru Impreza WRC Gilles Panizzi / Herve Panizzi Gilles Panizzi
18 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V Gustavo Trelles / Martin Miles Christie Ralliart Italie
19 Ford Escort WRC Francois Delecour / Savignoni Francois Delecour
20 Toyota Corolla WRC Isolde Holderied / Catherine Francois Toyota Castrol Team
21 Toyota Corolla WRC Henrik Lungaard / Freddy Pedersen Henrik Lundgaard
30 Toyota Corolla WRC Fabrizio Tabaton / Nicola Gullino Fabrizio Tabaton

1 Tommi Makinen / Risto Mannisenmaki Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
2 Juha Kankkunen / Juha Repo Subaru Impreza WRC
3 (Focus banned - points lost) Colin McRae / Nicky Grist Ford Focus WRC
4 Didier Auriol / Denis Giraudet Toyota Corolla WRC
5 Francois Delecour / Savignoni Ford Escort WRC
6 Bruno Thiry / Stephane Prevot Subaru Impreza WRC

Click here to view the championship standings to date.
Swedish Rally

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