The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports team suffered the cruelest blow in the first section of the opening leg of Rally New Zealand today and both Gilles Panizzi and Kristian Sohlberg were forced into retirement after the first run of this evening's super special stage.

"Both cars have suffered the same electrical problem. It is too early to say the exact reason," commented MMSP technical director Mario Fornaris shortly after the cars retired.

In the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship however, Mitsubishi drivers have taken the early advantage and no fewer than four Lancer Evolutions sit at the top of the leaderboard after the first two super special stages.

Fumio Nutahara, competing in his first full World Championship season, leads 'Gigi' Galli by a mere five-tenths of a second, while Jani Paasonen and Tomasz Kuchar hold third and fourth respectively.

The opening leg of Rally New Zealand resumes tomorrow and covers a further seven special stages and 206 competitive kilometres.



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