Sohlberg makes progress for Mitsubishi in Germany

FIA World Rally Championship, round 8

For immediate release
Sunday, July 27th, 2003


Paasonen's co-driver Kapanen injured in 11th stage accident

TRIER (Germany): Mitsubishi Motors entered Finnish drivers Jani Paasonen and Kristian Sohlberg in the ADAC Rally Germany, the eighth round of the FIA World Rally Championship, which finished in Trier today (Sunday).

The pair were entered in a pair of 2002-specification Mitsubishi Lancer WRCs to gain further experience on a major asphalt rally and Sohlberg finished 14th overall. No development had been carried out on these cars since last year's Sanremo Rally.

~We decided that this would be a better rally for testing than Finland, because our drivers know the Finnish event very well,~ said Sven Quandt, Head of Mitsubishi Motor Sports. ~I was pleased with the way the test went.~

Paasonen and his Finnish co-driver Arto Kapanen were beating their team mate and his co-driver Jakke Honkanen after 10 timed special stages, but Paasonen crashed heavily into an infamous hinkelstein (large concrete block on military ground) in the 11th stage - the first of Saturday's runs through the Panzerplatte - and both crew members were taken to a nearby hospital. Kapanen sustained a broken rib and shoulder blade in the accident.

~Changeable weather conditions make the stages unpredictable and this was the case with Jani's accident,~ said Quandt. ~It was dry, then wet, then dry again and without a gravel crew this can make tyre choices very difficult.

~I went to see both Jani and Arto after the accident and they are okay,~ added Quandt. ~It was a great shame, but it was a racing accident. They showed excellent potential and I am sure they will be rallying again very soon.~

Both have now left hospital and have returned to Finland.

Sohlberg, 25, was determined to finish and duoly instructed by on-event team manager Derek Dauncey to get the car to the end of the rally.

~At the start the priority for me was gain experience and finish. I was worried in case it rained, because I didn't have a gravel crew and this would have made it difficult,~ said Sohlberg.

Prior to his accident Paasonen, 28, admitted to feeling more at home over the rougher stages in the Maiwald and Panzerplatte areas rather than the smoother tarmac roads through the vineyards on the opening leg. He had moved 17s ahead of his team mate on Friday afternoon after Sohlberg spun on two occasions in the fourth stage and complained of brake problems in the Panzerplatte.

Sohlberg has slightly more tarmac experience than his team mate, having taken part in the Group N Production Cup in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. Paasonen, for his part, tackled the recent Azores Rally to gain additional stage experience.

~Neither of the drivers were familiar with tarmac and we wanted to see how they coped in a pressure situation. We will continue to monitor their progress,~ concluded Quandt.

Daniel Sola and co-driver Alex Romani won Group N, finishing 22nd overall in their Mitsubishi Carisma Evo7.

Mitsubishi pulled out of the FIA World Rally Championship at the end of 2002 to develop a new car in time for next season. Development work will be ongoing prior to the team's planned return to the series at the 2004 Monte Carlo Rally.


Date issued: 27/07/2003

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