Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) eased through the final leg to extend his lead in the drivers' championship to 35 points. Behind Hirvonen, Manfred Stohl (Peugeot) took fourth ahead of Toni Gardemeister (Citroen), who survived a spin this morning. Henning Solberg (Peugeot) completed the top six, climbing two places when firstly brother Petter (Subaru) dropped 90 seconds on the final stage after hitting a rock and damaging a wheel. Then Xevi Pons (Citroen) slipped to seventh when his car stopped with transmission troubles just 2km from the service park on the final liaison section. Dani Sordo (Citroen) lost the final manufacturers' point after crashing in the Lemesos street stage, despite it being run non-competitively. Matthew Wilson (Ford) inherited the final point in 10th.
Kronos Total Citroen
Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena did not wait long to extend the record for career victories that they broke in Japan. Their win in Cyprus - their eighth of the year and their third consecutive triumph on the 'Island of Aphrodite' - brings the benchmark up to 28 wins, all of them achieved at the wheel of the Citroen Xsara WRC. Seb's lead of the drivers' championship is now up to 35 points, with four rallies and 40 possible points still up for grabs. Sebastien Loeb: "I remembered Japan, On Sunday morning there I conceded a little bit of time first thing, which was just the invitation Marcus wanted. So I went flat-out on the first stage this morning. A few split times later, it seemed to me that Marcus was no longer pushing to the limit. I was able to calculate my speed based on his, and the end of the rally was a lot calmer.
Daniel Sordo: "I found it hard to develop a good rhythm from the start of the rally, I got a bit over-excited by the thought of being back on asphalt. But the grip is not so good when you just have gravel tyres. "
The OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team has proven its status as best private team once again at the "Cyprus Rally 2006". Only the Ford works team also had two drivers within scoring ranks. Manfred Stohl already reached a fourth place for the third time in this year's FIA World Rally Championship. OMV Teammate Henning Solberg finished sixth and together they won nine points for the manufacture ranking which again brought them closer to the Subaru works team.
Manfred Stohl/Ilka Minor: "We did all we could and performed quite a satisfying rally. Of course, I would have loved to be on the podium but fourth place also brings us a little closer to Sordo in the WRC. The Cyprus Rally was as tough as expected. The great heat and the extreme road conditions demand everything of you during these three days."
Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud: "It was really a tough rally and an ideal preparation for Turkey in three weeks. We are happy about any place that wins us points and this also justifies our commitment in the FIA World Rally Championship."
BP-Ford World Rally Team claimed a double podium finish on the Cyprus Rally today as the fight for the FIA World Rally Championship became ever more exciting. Marcus Gronholm and Timo Rautiainen were second in a Ford Focus RS World Rally Car after three days of tough competition over sun-baked rocky tracks in the Mediterranean island's mountains. Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen claimed third in another Focus RS as Ford closed to within just seven points of the leaders.
Marcus Gronholm/Timo Rautiainen: "This is a great result for our challenge in the manufacturers' championship. Unfortunately I wasn't quite fast enough to beat Loeb here. The roads are so twisty that for some corners it is necessary to change right down to first gear. That's the big difference between here and the hot, rough rally in Greece that we won in June. We had no big problems with the car, again it was so strong in these conditions. It was so hot here that it was like a bad sauna! Next we go to Turkey, which should be cooler but it will be another rough event. We have proved the Focus is good on rough, tough roads so I'm looking forward to taking on Loeb again - and beating him!"
Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen: "This is my fifth podium in six rallies and it helped us move nearer the leaders in the championship which was our aim. I found it difficult to settle into a good rhythm here. I had a big talk with Marcus and Christian Loriaux (technical director) last night and I now think I made a mistake with the set-up of my car for the rally. I made the decision before the start and so that is another lesson I have learned and I should be even more competitive on the next round in Turkey. It's good for me to close in on Dani Sordo in the drivers' series and put pressure on him. My mechanics have done a great job here in tough conditions and it has been a really good team effort."
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford
Information not available at time of going to press
After the time loss of the previous two days, the Subaru World Rally Team's focus for the final Leg turned to testing and development work for forthcoming events. Petter Solberg maintained his overnight seventh position throughout most of the day, however an impact with a rock on the racing line on the last stage of the day dropped him back down to eighth overall. Chris Atkinson had a steady drive throughout the day to finish the event in ninth position.
Petter Solberg/Phil Mills: 'For sure we came here to try and get a better result than this, but for the time loss on Friday we would have finished a lot higher. We still have much work to do on the car over the next few events, and we are all pushing so hard to get back and start fighting again.'
Chris Atkinson/Glen MacNeall: 'Until we went off the road last night, we were running in the top five, which is a better indicator of where we are at the moment. Today we have been driving to take no risks and do our job and get the car to the end of the rally, not risking it for Rally Turkey.'
Red Bull Skoda
Retired after leg one