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RALLY: Action-packed start for Ford in Australia

7 November 1998

The Ford World Rally team made a strong start to the API Rally Australia this evening (Thursday) when team drivers Juha Kankkunen and Bruno Thiry recorded the fourth and eighth fastest times with their Escort World Rally Cars around the 2.2 kilometre super-special stage in Perths Langley Park. This traditional prelude to three days of hectic rallying in the mighty forests of Western Australia attracted a 20,000 crowd to witness the spectacular floodlit action besides the Swan river.

"I like this rally very much," enthused Juha Kankkunen. "The chance to bring some dramatic action into the heart of the city at this super special stage is wonderful for the rally fans. I have had the good fortune to win this event several times and I hope this year we can also score a great result for Ford."

With his confidence boosted by an excellent sixth place finish in San Remo, Bruno Thiry is also eager to demonstrate his skills and the Escorts abilities in Australia. "Yesterdays shakedown tests allowed us to make some minor set-up changes to fine-tune the Escorts chassis and handling to the unique gravel surface of this region. It is one of the worlds toughest events, but I know we are in the best possible state of preparation to tackle the rally."

"The Ford World Rally team is confident of performing very well in Australia, commented Malcolm Wilson, Ford World Rally Team Director. "Last year the Escort was undoubtedly one of the fastest cars on this event. It is well suited to the particular conditions in the forests south of Perth and the shakedown testing went well, providing some good indicators to our choice of Michelin tyres. With Juhas fantastic winning record, Brunos current form and the reliability of the Ford Escort we have genuine hopes of doing really well in the days ahead."

The penultimate round of the 1998 FIA World Rally Championship, the Rally Australia re-starts early tomorrow when teams face the first of three days rallying covering 1400 kilometres with a total of 24 special stages over 404 kilometres of gravel roads.