The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports crew of Gilles and Herve Panizzi have climbed into a points-scoring seventh position after another 53.19 kilometres of competition and the pair return to Monte Carlo with increasing confidence in the performance of the new Lancer WRC04.

Stages eight and nine provided a tricky mix of conditions. The first [SS8] was run over wet and dry roads, but patchy fog reduced visibility significantly, while the second had sections of ice all too ready to catch out the unwary.

Mitsubishi Lancer WRC04 driver Gilles Panizzi was fifth fastest over the 24.80 kilometre run from Tourette du Chateau to Saint Antonin [SS8] and claimed sixth in the proceeding stage, one that caught out no fewer than three drivers.

Carlos Sainz went off the road near the end of the 28.39 kilometre stage and was forced into retirement after losing a front wheel, while Subaru's new recruit, Mikko Hirvonen, spun and damaged the rear end assigning him to the sidelines too. Roman Kresta also fell by the wayside, the Hyundai driver stopping about 10 kilometres into the stage.

"I am certainly more comfortable with the car and we are trying to look at different set-ups now," commented Gilles. "We have changed the shocks absorbers here in service and things are getting better and better. All the time we are learning and every stage is another step to understanding the car."

Crews now return to the same two stages, the last of the leg, before returning to Monte Carlo for the overnight halt.



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