Fleet on spying mission

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 September, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 September, 1995, 12:00am

AN international fleet of around 40 cars embarked on a key reconnaissance mission yesterday for next month's 555 Hong Kong-Beijing Rally.

Among those participating in the recee were last year's respective winner and second place holder, Possum Bourne and Richard Burns, who have built up a friendly rivalry in preparation for the gruelling event.

Also present were Mitsubishi teammates Ari Vatanen and Kenneth Eriksson and the winner of last year's Group N entry Michael Lieu of Hong Kong.

Bourne and Burns flew into Hong Kong earlier this week to begin their reconnaissance drive to Beijing as a run-up to the rally proper, which will be staged from October 14-20.

The pair were joined by Chinese teammates Lu Ningjun, Xian Tongchun, Chen Xuezhong and Shan Xiangli in Shenzhen.

Bourne and Burns are optimistic the 555 Subaru World Rally Team will triumph again this time around but have different predictions as to who will be crowned champion.

'I learned an enormous amount about the event when I took part last year and I have trained very hard for it this time. Possum will find it exceptionally difficult to retain his crown,' said 25-year-old Briton Burns.

New Zealander Bourne countered with a prediction of his own: 'My season may have started badly, but I won this event last year and I fully intend to take the title again.' Both drivers do agree that the eight-day reconnaissance is vital preparation for the rally.