WRC

Catalunya: Subaru World Rally Team final report

Rallye Catalunya Final Results (Sunday 24 March 2002) Today's final leg of the 2002 Rallye Catalunya began at 0615hrs when the remaining 45 cars left Lloret de Mar to contest the last 106 competitive kilometres of the event. The day dawned...

Rallye Catalunya Final Results (Sunday 24 March 2002)

Today's final leg of the 2002 Rallye Catalunya began at 0615hrs when the remaining 45 cars left Lloret de Mar to contest the last 106 competitive kilometres of the event. The day dawned cooler than the previous legs, around 10 degrees, and skies were overcast. However, there was no rain and by mid-morning the clouds had burnt off and temperatures reached the high 20's.

Peugeot's Gilles Panizzi maintained his position at the top of the leaderboard to claim the overall victory. His team-mate Richard Burns was second and Citroen's Philippe Bugalski joined them on the podium in third. Fourth place went to the third Peugeot entry, the 206 WRC of Marcus Gronholm, who was closely followed by Petter Solberg of the 555 Subaru World Rally Team.

Petter and co-driver Phil Mills will have plenty to celebrate tonight. Over the course of the event, the young Norwegian has been the only Pirelli runner and non-French car to challenge the strength of Peugeot and Citroen. Petter picked up two drivers points and four manufacturers points for Subaru. His achievement is even more impressive considering his lack of experience on the Spanish stages - he has only competed here once previously, and retired on the third stage on that occasion.

Stage Reports

SS13 0823hrs La Trona 1 (12.90km)

Fastest Time: Panizzi / Burns (Peugeot) 8:18.8

Gilles Panizzi and Richard Burns recorded equal fastest times. Jesus Puras snatched third while Marcus Gronholm and Petter Solberg continued to battle for fifth place overall, Gronholm finished fourth, 3.5 seconds ahead of Petter in sixth. Problems for Mitsubishi's Alister McRae -- he lost time on the opening test with a spin.

SS14 0933hrs La Roca 1 (5.05km)

Fastest Time: Puras (Citroen) 3:02.1

The shortest stage of the rally at just five kilometres. Puras won with Petter Solberg just 0.3 seconds behind in second. The fight intensified between Solberg and Gronholm, this time Petter was quicker than Marcus. Drama though for fourth placed Sebastien Loeb. He rolled his Citroen on the stage, and although he was able to continue for a short while, a broken wishbone ended their event. Loeb's misfortune promoted Solberg to fifth place overall.

SS15 1001hrs Viladrau 1 (35.18km)

Fastest Time: Burns (Peugeot) 21:14.9

Viladrau features perhaps the most well known corner of Rallye Catalunya - thousands of spectators clamoured on and around the infamous viaduct to catch a glimpse of the rally cars tackling the hairpin bend beneath them. Richard Burns took the win with fellow Peugeot driver Gronholm in second. Bugalski took third followed by Panizzi and Petter Solberg -- Subaru's Norwegian star slowed by a bad right-rear tyre vibration. Puras, Rovanpera, Delecour, Colin McRae and Loix completed the top ten. Despite a relatively slender 42 second lead, Gilles Panizzi was confident enough to take time out to impress the crowds. He dropped around 10 seconds to perform a 'donut,' and waved to crowds of fans midway through the stage!

SS16 1159hrs La Trona 2 (12.90km)

Fastest Time: Panizzi (Peugeot) 8:17.9

Another stage win for Panizzi with Petter Solberg once again best of the rest in second. The Peugeots of Gronholm and Burns followed, with Bugalski, Puras, Gardemeister, Martin, Rovanpera and Colin McRae completing the top ten.

SS17 1309hrs La Roca 2 (5.05km)

Fastest Time: Panizzi / Martin (Peugeot / Ford) 3:04.6

Ford's Markko Martin surprised on the penultimate stage of the rally when he scored a joint win with Panizzi. The Estonian had a problem before service when his car's brakes went soft and this win not only put him in line to collect manufacturers points, but marked his debut stage win on asphalt. Hot in pursuit of the top two were Gronholm, Loix, Solberg and Delecour. The Peugeots of Burns and Rovanpera were up next followed by Jesus Puras' Citroen and Colin McRae.

SS18 1337hrs Viladrau 2 (35.18km)

Fastest Time: Solberg (Subaru) 21:23.7

Final stage, and Petter Solberg scored his second stage win of the event. On the second run through Viladrau there were no crowd-pleasing antics from Gilles Panizzi. The Peugeot quad of Panizzi, Burns, Gronholm and Rovanpera followed Petter home with The Citroens of Bugalski and Puras shortly behind them. Making up the top ten were Martin, Loix and Gardemeister. Colin McRae came twelfth, which, after a very gruelling event for the injured Scot, was enough to secure him overall sixth position, one drivers point and three points for Ford.

Petter Solberg: "I am so very, very happy! It's turned out better than expected. It's really been my first time through most of the stages and to take the times that I did is very pleasing. It has been a difficult weekend. We have learned a lot about the car, especially on this type of special asphalt and it is very promising for next year. Pirelli is coming closer. It was difficult to keep the speed on some of the stages but we are definitely making improvements. The team and mechanics have worked very hard. I felt a little bit of pressure when Tommi went out but we managed to improve, get some good times and finish the rally."

555 Subaru World Rally Team Principal, David Lapworth: "It's a shame for Tommi. He paid a very high penalty for a very small mistake. Petter, however, has driven a brilliant rally. He has hardly put a foot wrong all weekend and when he's been able, he's proved how quick we can be. We've had a little bit of bad luck but we are closing the gap with Pirelli now and our prospects for a good result in Germany look excellent. In the meantime, we are really looking forward to Cyprus. As a team, it is one of our favourite events, we have done a lot of preparation work and the tyres and car combination should be very strong."

Next Event

The FIA 2002 World Rally Championship makes its next stop in twenty-six days time on the holiday island of Cyprus. This is just the third year that Cyprus has been included in the WRC calendar, after it replaced the China Rally in 2000. The event is based in the countryside around Limassol, on rocky stages that are similar in character to those seen in Greece. The demanding terrain, combined with scorching summer temperatures, make the event a tough one for cars and drivers.

-swrt-

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Colin McRae , Richard Burns , Gilles Panizzi , Marcus Gronholm , Petter Solberg , Alister McRae , Sébastien Loeb , Philippe Bugalski , Jesus Puras , Markko Martin
Teams Citroën World Rally Team