Pirelli Hit By Bad Luck On Catalunya Rally

Salou (E), 30 October 2005 - The three Pirelli partner teams (Subaru, Peugeot and Mitsubishi) have all been hit by bad luck on the all-asphalt Catalunya Rally, round 15 of the World Rally Championship. The Subaru-Pirelli of Petter Solberg was out on just the third stage after hitting a rock, while the Peugeot-Pirelli of Marcus Gronholm retired from third place at the end of day two with a broken radiator. The Mitsubishi-Pirelli of Gigi Galli had just set a fastest time and climbed to fourth when he crashed out on the second morning. Peugeot-Pirelli driver Nicolas Bernardi, on only his second event for the team, finishes in a very creditable sixth place, while the Subaru-Pirelli of Chris Atkinson is ninth: a good result for the young Australian on only his third asphalt rally. The final leg of the Catalunya Rally was completely dry, with none of the mixed conditions that had blighted the first two legs. The day consisted of just three stages, held to the north and west of rally headquarters in Salou, which were smooth and fast. Temperatures in the morning were in the region of 20 degrees centigrade, before climbing to more than 25 degrees in the afternoon. Pirelli's drivers used the latest evolution of the RX7 tyre for the majority of the rally, and the harder RX5 when temperatures were higher. However, the mixed conditions throughout the first two days made tyre choice extremely delicate, with crews having to rely heavily on information from weather forecasts and safety crews, which was not always accurate. Spain was also the final round of the Junior World Rally Championship, exclusively supplied by Pirelli. The Citroen C2 of Daniel Sordo won the event, and the Spaniard has now clinched the title. Fiorenzo Brivio, Pirelli's rally manager, commented: "It's been a very unlucky rally for our teams, but it is not without its positive side. The latest evolution of RX tyres once again confirmed the improvements we have seen in testing, while Gigi Galli set a fastest stage time and Marcus Gronholm was all set for a comfortable podium. I would like to congratulate Nicolas Bernardi and Chris Atkinson. Despite their massive inexperience, they have proved that the future of the sport is in safe hands. We have also accumulated yet more data that will be extremely useful for the future, and will help us make further improvements." Catalunya Rally (15/16) Final Classification 1 Loeb-Elena Citroen Xsara WRC 3h31m07.0s 2 Duval-Smeets Citroen Xsara WRC +1m21.9s 3 Hirvonen-Lehtinen Ford Focus WRC +2m46.7s 4 Pons-del Barrio Citroen Xsara WRC +2m47.9s 5 Kresta-Tomanek Ford Focus WRC +3m24.6s 6 Bernardi-Fortin Peugeot 307 WRC +4m09.4s 7 Warmbold-Orr Ford Focus WRC +5m00.3s 8 Kopecky-Schovanek Skoda Fabia WRC +5m22.3s 9 Atkinson -Macneall Subaru Impreza WRC +5m40.2s 10 Rovanpera-Pietilainen Mitsubishi Lancer WRC +7m39.3s Drivers Championship: 1 Loeb 127; 2 Solberg & Gronholm 71 ; 4 Gardemeister 58; 5 Martin 53 ; 6 Duval 37; 7 Rovanpera 31 ; 8 Kresta 26; 9 Stohl 16; 10 Hirvonen 14; 11 Sainz 11; 12 Galli 10 ; 13 H Solberg 9; 14 Atkinson 8 Manufacturers: 1 Citroen 178; 2 Peugeot 135 ; 3 Ford 100; 4 Subaru 91 ; 5 Mitsubishi 63 ; 6 Skoda 18 Next round : Rally Australia (AUS), 11-13 November