The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports WRC team tackles another fresh challenge on Rallye Deutschland next weekend [August 19-22], this central European event being the first full asphalt round of the series. Tarmac ace Gilles Panizzi will once again spearhead the team's assault and will be joined by Spaniard Dani Sola for the 10th round of the FIA World Rally Championship - and the final event for Mitsubishi, following their decision to 'modify' their 2004 programme.

As last year, the event is also a qualifying round of the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship and 'Gigi' Galli - fresh from his emphatic Group N victory in Finland - will be leading the Mitsubishi challenge, vying for the fifth consecutive Lancer Evolution victory in the category this year. He will be joined by no fewer than 23 other Group N Lancer Evolution drivers, all of whom will be fighting for personal honours.

"It will be interesting for us to go to Germany because it gives us the opportunity to assess our level on tarmac," commented the team's technical director Mario Fornaris. "Since Monte Carlo we have progressed and we know the car is better, but it's important to have a benchmark against our rivals.

"It will also be interesting to see how Dani performs as Germany has been very successful for him in the past and I think he is someone we can rely on for some good information.

"For Gilles, it will be good to be able to see the result of all his test work and confirmation of whether we are moving in the right direction on this surface. Hopefully we will get some satisfaction from everyone's hard work. The rally is not so easy, almost a lottery because of all the surface changes and the fact that the weather is so unstable. For sure it's a difficult event for the drivers, as well as the team with the tyre decisions."

Gilles and Herv? Panizzi have contested the event once since its inclusion in the FIA World Rally Championship, finishing 10th last year.

"I have to say it's not one of my favourite events," said Gilles. "It has very special conditions and is very different to say Corsica or Catalunya and the nature of the roads is very changeable throughout the event. For me I would say it's a treacherous rally, especially in the military area where there are huge concrete blocks on the outside of long and fast corners. We won't have any new parts for this rally so it's difficult to say where we will be, but we will be trying, as ever."

Team-mate Sola has clearly got the measure of Rallye Deutschland and the Spaniard, who will be co-driven by Xavier Amigo, not only won the Junior World Rally Championship category in 2002 but also the Production Car World Rally Championship round last year. Sola is now looking forward to a competitive outing in the Lancer WRC04 on one of his most successful events.

"I like the rally because it is tarmac, but it's a strange and different event; totally different to other asphalt rallies," said Dani. "But for me it is challenging because the surface and weather changes a lot. Sure, I have won the JWRC and PWRC events, but now I am doing WRC and I don't have so much experience of this car on tarmac, but my plan is to do my job as well as possible. It is difficult to know how we can perform; in Finland the car was improved but we have to wait and see what we can do on tarmac, especially as there is a very good entry for this rally."

Rallye Deutschland, running for the third year in the FIA World Rally Championship, is the first true asphalt round of the series and presents a challenging cocktail of conditions for the crews as the individual legs mix different surfaces. The result of this is the potential for numerous set-up changes, constantly changing tyre choices, added to which is the weather which can change quickly in this region.

The route essentially covers the same three areas as previously; the picturesque yet narrow roads in the Mosel Valley that require precision driving, the wider flowing roads in the Saarland countryside and the gravely concrete-based military ranges in the Baumholder region where large boulders line the roads and grip is reduced dramatically when it's wet.

The 2004 Rallye Deutschland, based once again in Trier, kicks off on Friday August 20 when the crews contest the opening leg of competition in the Mosel Valley. These roads are challengingly narrow with a full tarmac surface requiring a precise driving style.

After these first eight stages and 135.02 competitive kilometres, and the overnight halt in Bostalsee, the crews head to the Baumholder ranges on Saturday for another nine stages and 177.66 competitive kilometres. However, the longest day of the rally also takes in stages in the St. Wendel region, where conditions will once again be different to the almost multi-venue stages in Baumholder.

The final day covers seven stages and 93.38 competitive kilometres, again essentially around the military ranges with the climax of the event taking the crews to the St Wendel super special stage.

In total, Rallye Deutschland takes in 24 special stages and 411.06 competitive kilometres in a total distance of 1,075.77 kilometres.