Rally Indonesia 1997
Check out the Rally Indonesia official pages.
Rally Indonesia, in its second year as a round of the WRC, has taken its place among the more traditional events in the calendar. The conditions in Indonesia are unique in the WRC, characterized by high temperatures and humidity. Sudden rain showers often make the muddy plantation roads extremely slippery.
Being also a part of the important Asia-Pacific series, Rally Indonesia always has a good entry. All the normal works drivers were on the starting lineup with Richard Burns driving the second Mitsubishi and Kenneth Eriksson in the second Subaru. Toyota's new Corolla WRC's were driven by Didier Auriol and an upcoming Australian driver Neal Bates.
On the first day of the rally Subaru's Colin McRae was unbeatable. He won five of the day's eight special stages. Pirelli introduced a new very narrow mud tire for the rally but apparently this wasn't the secret of McRae's speed as he mostly used conventional tires. Tommi Makinen was also a strong starter but he suffered from mysterious problems in the fuel injection system of the Mitsubishi Lancer. On the rainy last stage Makinen also had a minor off and hurt the turbocharger. Nevertheless, in the evening he was second, 35 secs behind the Scotsman
Third after the first day was Ford's Juha Kankkunen, followed by team-mate Carlos Sainz. Both reported a problem-free day apart from some unlucky tire choices. Eriksson was fifth and Burns, who won the last stage, sixth. Auriol, in seventh, wasn't able to keep up with others. Bates with the second Toyota was already out with tecnical problems.
Colin McRae (Photo by 555 Subaru WRT)
On the second day McRae continued his strong performance until SS13 where he hit a tree and damaged the radiator. He was able to limp through the next stage but after SS14 the engine caught fire and McRae was out of the rally. Stage number 13 also brought bad luck to Tommi Makinen. A radiator fan came loose and holed the radiator. With no service after the stage the engine overheated on SS14 and Makinen was out, too.
Juha Kankkunen had now taken the lead, but Carlos Sainz was charging with new suspension settings copied from Kankkunen's car. Sainz won all remaining five stages of the day and on SS16 he took the lead as Kankkunen lost some time in a short visit to the ditch. Eriksson was 3rd and Burns 4th. Didier Auriol retired with technical problems.
The final six stages of the last day were quite uneventful for the top drivers. Sainz and Kankkunen had frozen their positions to keep Sainz' championship hopes alive. Winning Rally Indonesia, for the second year in succession, Carlos Sainz is now eight points behind Makinen in the standings, with three rounds to go. Colin McRae has in effect lost his chances for the title with the numerous retirements lately.
For Ford the result couldn't have been better. With a full points score Ford overtook Mitsubishi in the manufacturers' points, and looms now behind Subaru, the difference being only one point.
Kenneth Eriksson defended Subaru's positions finishing third. He was pushing on the last day to catch Kankkunen but that proved impossible. The third position was, however, enough to clinch the Asia-Pacific manufacturer's title for Subaru, with one round to go. Richard Burns had another respectable finish with the Mitsubishi Carisma, he was fourth. Yoshio Fujimoto took the 5th place with the good ol' Toyota Celica.
The front-wheel-drive gr. F2 was dominated by Seat, with Harri Rovanpera taking the win and Erwin Weber second. Gr. N was won by Karamjit Singh with the Mitsubishi Lancer look-alike Proton Wira.
Results of Rally Indonesia 1997: