Peugeot maintain world championship lead Peugeot has maintained the lead of the manufacturers' World Championship, thanks to an excellent second place from Harri Rovanpera on the Cyprus Rally. Peugeot driver Richard Burns continues to lead the...
Peugeot maintain world championship lead
Peugeot has maintained the lead of the manufacturers' World Championship, thanks to an excellent second place from Harri Rovanpera on the Cyprus Rally. Peugeot driver Richard Burns continues to lead the World Championship for drivers.
Harri overcame some of the most difficult conditions that World Championship rallying has ever seen, with three days of rough surfaces and searing temperatures decimating the field. Just seven of the original 16 manufacturer entries made it to the finish.
The Finn drove carefully on the final leg, which consisted of six stages run in two loops of three. But he had to make running repairs to his car before the final two stages after encountering a transmission problem. Harri removed the front-left driveshaft, and continued to the end with just three-wheel drive. His well-deserved result means that Peugeot continues to lead the manufacturers' championship with an eight-point margin over Citroen.
Harri said: "This has been one of the most difficult rallies I can ever remember. To finish second like this feels almost like winning! I had to do most of the last three stages with three-wheel drive, which meant that the handling of the car was very strange. Because of that, I had a spin on the last stage but in the end it was OK!"
Harri battled overheating problems on the second leg after leading the rally for most of day one. In total, he set 5 fastest stage times out of 18 en route to the podium. "I think it's been a very tough rally for everybody" Harri added. "It was really just a question of surviving. Anybody who gets to the end here deserves it."
Harri's was the only factory Peugeot to finish after all his team mates hit trouble yesterday. Marcus Gronholm retired from the lead with propshaft failure, while Richard Burns succumbed to overheating just one kilometre from the service park. The Bozian-run Peugeot of Gilles Panizzi retired from fourth place following an engine failure.
Peugeot Sport boss Corrado Provera said: "Harri and Risto are the people we turn to in our most difficult moments. We've seen it before on the Safari Rally and we see it again here. They have both done an exceptional job and I am filled with admiration for them. They have been very good here - we haven't. But we can now take comfort from the fact of leading both championships at more than halfway through the season. The second half of the year should be better suited to us, but even if this championship is more difficult than we expected, that makes it all the more worth winning."
The World Championship switches to asphalt for the eighth round of the series, the Rallye Deutschland based in Trier from July 24-27. Tarmac expert Panizzi returns to the factory team as one of the pre-event favourites, but the mixed surfaces of Germany make the result impossible to predict.