Reports suggest that Mitsubishi wants to recruit Peugeot’s asphalt-rally specialist, Gilles Panizzi, for the team’s return to the WRC next year, but the Frenchman says he’s considering several other offers.

Reports suggest that Mitsubishi wants to recruit Peugeot’s asphalt-rally specialist, Gilles Panizzi, for the team’s return to the WRC next year, but the Frenchman says he’s considering several other offers.

Panizzi is reportedly close to signing a deal with the Japanese marque for next year, but observers believe that his current employer, Peugeot, may want to retain the Frenchman’s services in one way or another.

Peugeot is thought to have offered Panizzi a contract for next year, but not for the entire championship season. In contrast, a Mitsubishi deal would almost certainly include every round. Panizzi has links with Mitsubishi’s technical director Mario Fournais and is rumoured to have visited Ralliart’s UK base recently.

“I have not signed any contract for 2004,” Panizzi said recently. “I am in discussions with several teams, not only two. I do not want to say anymore for the moment. I did not sign a contract, not pre-contract or a promise of contract.”

With only Marcus Gronholm signed for 2004, Panizzi, Richard Burns and Harri Rovanpera cannot all stay at Peugeot next year under new rules concerning third drivers. The FIA announced on Wednesday that a third nominated driver in a manufacturer's team must not have scored a podium in the past three years.

Panizzi and Rovanpera have been swapping official third driver status at Peugeot this season, with Panizzi tackling the asphalt rounds in a full works 206, while Rovanpera takes on the gravel rallies for the team.