RALLYING: Mitsubishi hit by budget shortfall

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The Independent Online

The world championship is set for a new leader after a budget shortfall has left Finland's Tommi Mkinen sidelined for this week's Rally of Portugal. The event is the first major rally of the year to take place on dirt roads - which make up half the championship - and provides a perfect opportunity for the Ford, Subaru and Toyota drivers to capitalise on the absence of Mkinen.

A budget shortfall means Mitsubishi are making only a token appearance in Portugal, relying on production-class cars for the event, which starts today and runs until Friday. Mkinen is not taking part and is, therefore, likely to relinquish his three-point lead.

The man most likely to depose him is his compatriot and the four-time world champion, Juha Kankkunen, who is second on 22 points. But Kankkunen is unlikely to win in the tough, 1,500-km Portuguese event.

Toyota, the world champion team, have been hit by a loss of power since the rules for turbo-charged cars were tightened.