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GP Week : 06-May-2008
FUMIO Nutahara has gained the first victory for Mitsubishi’s new Lancer Evo X model. The win came on the asphalt Japanese championship Kuma Kogen Rally. Running in very much standard specification, as required by national rules, the Advan-sponsored driver Nutahara was able to beat a 2008 version Subaru Impreza. “I found the Evo X’s suspension better than that on the old Evo IX,” he said. “The Kuma Kogen Rally was over very bumpy asphalt, and it would have been hard work driving a IX, but this car was much easier to drive. Also the engine response on the Evo X is much better, but the car is about 100kg more heavy.” The model is scheduled to be homologated for international use by the FIA in August, when the first batch of left hand drive cars is due to be shipped to Europe. When asked the prospects of continued rivalry with the Subaru, Nutahara explained: “The Impreza N14 has been homologated since the star of the year and they have already had time to discover how to develop it.” First win for Mitsu’s Evo X NO fewer than 46 priority drivers, including a world record 29 crews qualifying for the Production Car championship, have been entered in the Acropolis Rally, Round 7 of the 2008 world series (29 May–1 June). The number of private drivers, however, is only 16, the smallest proportion of non-professional drivers at a world rally on record. Of these 16, 13 are Greek drivers, supported by one each from Saudi Arabia, Austria and Italy. There is, however, a full strength of six world championship teams contesting the event, with yet another variation for the Munchis team. The Acropolis will be their fifth outing of the season, and there is another new driver in the team, their fifth this year. This is to be property and building businessman Aris Vovos, who is making his annual appearance in a World Rally Car. Once again his co-driver will compete under the pseudonym “El-Em”. Financial problems are thought to be the root of the paucity of private entries on the Acropolis. One local rally expert explained “the cost to a private driver of competing on the Acropolis is something like 60-70 percent of the cost of contesting the whole Greek championship. And sponsors find that publicity from the world championship is at a lower lever at the moment in Greece.” Championship teams to dominate the Acropolis Regular Starters: Aris Vovos and ‘El-Em’ will be back in action in Acropolis. M ar tin H olm es M ar tin H olm es WRC news >> 11