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Galli Tops Shakedown Times In Mitsubishi Lancer Wrc05

The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports WRC team completed its final preparations for Rally New Zealand this morning and the Lancer WRC05 crew of "Gigi" Galli and Guido D'Amore topped the timesheets in only their sixth event together in a world rally car. Team-mates Harri Rovanperä and Risto Pietiläinen experienced problems during their second run and broke the front right suspension. However, the Finns then completed their final two runs over the five kilometer stage without problems.

"Between México and New Zealand we have made no changes to the cars, simply as there has been no time for testing", commented the team's Technical Director Mario Fornaris. "The specification is therefore the same, although the car is a little bit lower here. Our expectation for the event remains the same; to get two cars to the finish and hopefully both in the points. A top five finish would be fantastic. Harri is free to do the best he can and Gigi's target is to get to the finish and gain experience".

Rally New Zealand has traditionally been a good event for Harri Rovanperä and Risto Pietiläinen and the Finns are still looking forward to powering over some of the world's finest rally stages, despite their problems during shakedown. "During our second run I cut a tight right corner a little too much and we hit a post and the suspension upright took most of the impact", said Harri. "It was a small problem but resulted in a lot of work for the mechanics and meant we had much less time to make some decisions about the damper set-up; two or three more runs would have given us more of an idea what to do but we will review our decision after the first leg".

Gigi Galli and Guido D'Amore have only previously competed in New Zealand once, although an accident put paid to their assault in Mitsubishi's Group N machinery last year. However, the Italian Lancer WRC05 crew set the pace during shakedown, claiming fastest time ahead of a host of much more experienced crews. "For us, everything was fine this morning but it's always difficult to know how representative the times are and we must remain focused on our goal", commented Gigi. "We tried different tyres and basically confirmed the set-up we found during our earlier test in Spain. I have fallen in love with the roads here in New Zealand and love the country; it is really very special".

Rally New Zealand kicks off this evening with a ceremonial start in the new location of Waitemata Plaza, Auckland City, before the crews make the 130 kilometer journey north back to Paparoa, ready for the opening day of action on Friday. Leg one covers eight stages and 129.22 competitive kilometers with the overnight halt in Paparoa and already one of the leading contenders has been forced out. Roman Kresta, nominated for points in the second Ford Focus, has had to withdraw after rolling heavily at shakedown.
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