MMSP announces 2004 WRC drivers
Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports News
For immediate release
Friday, November 7th, 2003
MITSUBISHI MOTOR SPORTS (MMSP)
ANNOUNCES 2004 WRC DRIVER LINE-UP
Panizzi to participate in all 16 WRC rounds;
Sohlberg, Galli and Sola to share second Mitsubishi WRC Rally Car
TREBUR (Germany): Mitsubishi Motor Sports (MMSP) announced its team line-up for the 2004 FIA World Rally Championship today (Friday). The 16-round series gets underway in Monte Carlo on January 23-25th, 2004.
Frenchman Gilles Panizzi, co-driven by brother Herve, will drive the first Mitsubishi Lancer WRC on all 16 events in the championship. The other three drivers - Finland's Kristian Sohlberg, Spain's Daniel Sola Vila and Italy's Gianluigi 'Gigi' Galli - will share the second Mitsubishi Lancer WRC throughout the season and will drive a Group N Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 8 in other WRC rounds to gain further worldwide rally experience.
Panizzi, 38, will renew a successful working relationship with MMSP's Technical Director Mario Fornaris, with whom he worked before. Panizzi currently lies eighth in this year's FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers', despite only tackling eight of the 15 rallies to date. He began rallying in 1988 and has taken seven WRC wins in 53 events.
~I am delighted to be working with Gilles and Herve again next year,~ said Fornaris. ~Gilles has shown time and again a competitive spirit and a determination to succeed. He is a very talented driver and his impressive victory in Spain recently is proof of his ability.
~It is a new challenge for both of us. We both have an excellent working relationship and Gilles has a special way of feeding information about a car to engineers. We are both looking forward to working together again and pushing forward with this new and exciting opportunity.~
Finnish driver Kristian Sohlberg began rallying in 1997. He represented Mitsubishi Motor Sports in this year's Rally Deutschland and finished 14th overall. The 25-year-old teams up with experienced Finnish co-driver Kaj Lindström, former co-driver of four-times World Rally Champion Tommi Mäkinen who retires at the end of this season.
The Italian, Galli, will be co-driven by Guido D'Amore. Thirty-year-old Galli began rallying in 1994 and won the 2000 Italian Rally Championship Cup for Drivers of Group N cars. He attempted the FIA Cup for Drivers of Production Cars on four occasions and finished sixth overall in 1998. His WRC partnership with D'Amore began in the 1998 Sanremo Rally.
Spain's Sola joins forces with Alex Romani Balcells. The pair first competed together in the 2002 Rallye Catalunya-Costa Brava and have tackled select rounds of the WRC for two years.
Sola, 28, lies fifth in the 2003 FIA Cup for Drivers of Production Cars and took a Production victory this season in the Rally Deutschland and second place in Argentina. Sola's WRC career began in the 1997 Rallye Catalunya-Costa Brava and he won the 2002 FIA Junior World Rally Championship for Drivers.
~I am delighted to welcome Gilles and our young drivers to the new WRC team,~ said Sven Quandt, Head of Motor Sport, MMSP GmbH. ~The 'youngsters' will share our second car. Our philosophy is to promote young drivers for the future and our main focus is to develop drivers from the Group N category to compete at the highest WRC level. Galli, Sola and Sohlberg are all talented young men with great potential.~