CHAMPIONSHIP PACE-SETTER PEUGEOT ON THE VICTORY HUNT Less than a fortnight after Sardinia, it will be the turn of another Mediterranean island -- Cyprus -- to host a round of the World Rally Championship. Peugeot, who won this event in 2002,...
CHAMPIONSHIP PACE-SETTER PEUGEOT ON THE VICTORY HUNT
Less than a fortnight after Sardinia, it will be the turn of another Mediterranean island -- Cyprus -- to host a round of the World Rally Championship. Peugeot, who won this event in 2002, will be out to consolidate its lead in the Manufacturers' points table, while the 307 WRC drivers Marcus Gronholm and Markko Martin will be looking to hit the ground running.
Strong, determined runs from Marcus Gronholm and Markko Martin in the recent Rally Sardinia saw Peugeot bag 3rd and 4th places respectively, their close formation finish harvesting extra valuable points in the team's bid to win the 2005 Manufacturers' title. The result was all the more appreciable in that it was made possible by Marcus Gronholm's spectacular charge back up the leader-board to finish on the podium after losing ground with a roll in the opening leg. Five rounds into the calendar, Peugeot continues to top the championship standings with a cushion of 11 and 18 points over Citroën and Subaru respectively, while Markko Martin and Marcus Gronholm figure in 3rd and 4th places in the Drivers' table.
The 307 WRC's reliability was once again a key asset in Sardinia and promises to be just as important over the next three fixtures, all of which run on gravel. The Cyprus Rally, like the Turkish and Greek rounds, is known for its rough conditions but stands out from the other two events through its extremely twisty gravel stages which call for unusually frequent use of first and second gears. The winner of this rally in 2004 completed the distance at an average speed of 65 kph and, combined with the searing heat, these exceptionally slow speeds put the transmission and cooling systems to a challenging test.
Marcus Gronholm has finished this event on one occasion when he won it outright in 2002. The two-times World Champion prefers high-speed rallies such as New Zealand and Finland, but he has shown that he understands the secret of being quick in Cyprus. After the frustration of being eliminated from the battle for top spot in Sardinia, he will be more determined than ever to return from this year's visit to the Troodos Mountains with a top result under his belt.
Markko Martin is another driver who prefers fast, flowing corners to rough, twisty going. However, his 2nd place in Limassol in 2004 showed that he too has the ability to adapt to all types of terrain. The patience and consistency that have been his strong points since the beginning of the season promise once again to be valuable assets in the three events to come.