Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) extended his world championship lead with his third consecutive victory. He finished with a lead of 4min 09.5sec having posted 12 fastest times from the 16 stages run competitively. Private entrant Manfred Stohl was a ...
Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) extended his world championship lead with his third consecutive victory. He finished with a lead of 4min 09.5sec having posted 12 fastest times from the 16 stages run competitively. Private entrant Manfred Stohl was a surprise second, ahead of the consistent Markko Martin (Peugeot). Behind the Ford trio of Henning Solberg, Toni Gardemeister and Roman Kresta, Harri Rovanpera (Mitsubishi) took seventh, despite his steering wheel working loose in the opening stage, while privateer Daniel Carlsson took the final drivers' points after overhauling Janne Tuohino's (Skoda) overheating car on the penultimate stage. Ninth, 10th and 11th were sufficient for Tuohino, Chris Atkinson (Subaru) and Gilles Panizzi (Mitsubishi) to claim the final manufacturers' points.
Sebastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and their trusty Citroen collected their third consecutive win today in Cyprus, their fourth of the 2005 season. This weekend's success - the crew's fourteenth at WRC level - takes the defending champions 11 points clear at the top of the provisional Drivers' World Championship standings.
Sebastien Loeb / Daniel Elena: "This is the moment we've been waiting for, for the past two days. Ever since the real battle ended in fact. It's a bit of a strange win and I feel a certain relief that it's over. The car was perfect and didn't give us any problems, and we didn't make any mistakes. This win may not have been all that exciting but, like all the others, it's worth ten valuable points!"
Francois Duval / Stephane Prevot: Retired (accident & fire)
After a trouble-free run on today's final Leg of the Cyprus Rally, Subaru's Chris Atkinson moved three places up the leaderboard to achieve a top-ten finish. Contesting the event for the first time, Atkinson's primary objective for the rally was to gain experience of the car in the specialist conditions. On today's final six stages, the Australian was also able to experiment with the set-up of his Impreza WRC2005 in preparation for the forthcoming rough gravel events in Turkey and Greece.
Petter Solberg / Phil Mills: Retired
Chris Atkinson/Glen Macneall: "The event didn't get off to the best start for us, but in fact, once the competitive pressure lifted, we had a great opportunity to experiment with the car and learn more about the conditions. We ran at a consistent and safe pace and I think we've made some useful steps ahead of Greece and Turkey. We've still got some more work to do of course, especially in the slow corners, but I'm pleased with what we've achieved here this weekend."
Ford created history on the Cyprus Rally today by claiming its 50th consecutive points finish in the FIA World Rally Championship. Three Focus RS World Rally Cars finished in the top six places of the season's toughest rally to ensure Ford reached its half century. Since the championship was officially launched in 1973, there have been 411 world rallies and no other manufacturer has composed a run of consecutive points scores that exceeds 36.
Toni Gardemeister/Jakke Honkanen: "The times might not suggest it, but I drove quite slowly today. It's hard to find a good rhythm when the pace is not 100 per cent and you're driving at a speed so that you don't make a mistake. We weren't on full attack but couldn't drop our speed too much. But generally we've had a good pace and it's a pity we lost time with two punctures earlier in the event.
Roman Kresta/Jan Mozny: "This is the hardest rally I've ever driven, apart from the Safari Rally in Kenya which is unlike any other event. It's been tough for co-drivers and drivers. It was hot in the car and the stages were long and difficult. I'm pleased that I was well prepared and fit. I'm not sure how I would have coped if I wasn't fit. We scored good points and this is a great achievement for everyone in Ford."
By finishing third on the Cyprus Rally, Markko Martin has brought Peugeot eight precious points for the manufacturers championship and added six points to his own personal tally. This has allowed the Estonian to climb to second place in the drivers championship, a position he holds jointly with Subaru's Petter Solberg.
Marcus Gronholm / Timo Rautiainen: Retired
Markko Martin/Michael Park: "I knew that if I wanted to be on the podium I had to push hard today. It was quite difficult, because I did not want to take any risks with the manufacturer points I already had in the bag for Peugeot. Luckily we were able to do it, after what has been a very difficult rally for us. We lost a lot of time on the first day, but I knew that if we stayed out of trouble we would be able to get a good result. The car has been perfect, and with every rally I feel a bit more comfortable with it."
At the end of what is likely to be the toughest round of the FIA World Rally Championship, the Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports WRC team claimed manufacturer points with both its Lancer WRC05 cars, one of only two of the six registered teams to do so. Harri Rovanpera/Risto Pietilainen finished seventh overall and while team-mates Gilles and Herve Panizzi finished 11th, they claimed the final manufacturer point in the Cyprus Rally.
Harri Rovanpera/Risto Pietilainen: "We weren't cruising today, but the gaps in front and behind were big enough that there was no sense in pushing hard and risking the car. These were some of the worst roads I have seen in years, maybe only matched by the Acropolis many years ago. We have a test coming up next week where we can focus on issues from this event and hopefully make some more improvements to help us in Turkey and Greece. Overall I'm pleased; I think without problems we could have been fighting with Manfred (Stohl) and had a very good result."
Gilles Panizzi/Herve Panizzi: ""It was a difficult weekend and it's nice to finish and get a point for Mitsubishi. It has been the worst event of the season, in terms of the roughness of the roads, and for various reasons it was simply a matter of getting through the stages."
Janne Tuohino brought the Skoda Fabia WRC 05 to the finish of the Cyprus Rally in ninth position, narrowly missing out on his first drivers' championship points of the season. However his result brought three points for the Skoda Motorsport World Rally Team after the most gruelling event so far this season. Janne lost a place yesterday when a pipe to the turbo was shaken loose on the rough roads during the second leg and had to sacrifice eighth place today when the water temperature soared in the closing stages.
Janne Tuohino/Mikko Markkula: "This morning we made some adjustments to the differential mapping so that I could drive safely and try to reach the finish in the points positions for both the drivers and manufacturers. I didn't try to push any harder than was necessary to keep Daniel Carlsson behind me but on SS17 the water temperature rose to 130 degrees and we had to switch to safe mode to finish the rally."
Armin Schwarz/Klaus Wicha: "This morning I was taking no risks and trying some different differential settings that will be a useful starting point in our test next week and for the next two events. What surprised me most today was the size of the rocks in the road, even for the first car."
Round seven of the 16-event FIA World Rally Championship starts in three weeks when teams return to the Mediterranean for the Rally of Turkey. Starting on Thursday 2 June with a Super Special, the event will start in earnest on Friday 3 June at 0730hrs.
Temperatures in Turkey are expected to be as hot as those in Cyprus, but as the average speeds of the rally are higher there will be more airflow through the cars. Turkey is another famed car-breaker and components have to be at their strongest to survive the three-day pounding from rocky roads and choking dust. Service will once again be based in the coastal resort of Kemer, while the event's 18 stages will run in the Anatolian mountains. The event will conclude on Sunday 5 June.