WRC

Cyprus: Subaru World Rally Team leg one report

Cyprus Rally Leg 1, 19 April 2002 Summary The fifth round of the 2002 FIA World Rally Championship, the Cyprus Rally, got underway this morning when 60 cars crossed the start line in the Mediterranean holiday resort of Limassol. Weather ...

Cyprus Rally Leg 1, 19 April 2002

Summary
The fifth round of the 2002 FIA World Rally Championship, the Cyprus Rally, got underway this morning when 60 cars crossed the start line in the Mediterranean holiday resort of Limassol.

Weather conditions for the first leg were perfect and skies remained sunny and clear with no sign of the predicted rain showers in the mountains where the stages ran. Temperatures reached as high as 25ºC.

At the end of the first day of competition, Colin McRae leads the rally with Marcus Gronholm second and Markko Martin third. Ford's young driver Francois Duval is fourth with 555 Subaru World Rally Team driver Tommi Makinen fifth.

Both 555 Subaru team drivers had their share of difficulties on the three stages in the morning but enjoyed considerably better fortunes in the afternoon when the same stages were repeated. Tommi, who collected fastest time on SS5, will start tomorrow eleventh on the road - in a good strategic position to fight for an improved place.

Petter Solberg had an unlucky start to the day when a minor mechanical problem cost him more than three minutes. But things picked up from stage four when he set the fastest time. He followed this with a third on SS5 and a second on SS6. The afternoons work brought him up to sixteenth place overall, and he too holds an advantageous road position ahead of tomorrow's eight stages.

Stage Reports

SS1 0912hrs Platres - Kato Amiantos (11.60km)
Fastest Time: C McRae (Ford) 9:20.8

Ford driver Colin McRae, who won here last year, took victory on the first stage - a particularly rough test, which featured plenty of fast, flowing bends. Petter Solberg was second, barely half a second behind. Peugeot's Marcus Gronholm was third, followed by Ford driver Markko Martin and Hyundai's Freddy Loix, who rounded off the top five. Tommi Makinen finished eleventh. Carlos Sainz' Ford Focus WRC picked up a broken drive shaft 4km from the start. He lost about 15 seconds over the 11km stage but would have to contest two further sections before the next service. Bad luck for Japan's Toshi Arai. The Japanese star, contesting the Production Cup Series in the latest Subaru Impreza WRX, was forced to retire when his car suffered a suspected fuel pump failure.

SS2 0955hrs Lagoudera - Kapouras (15.00km)
Fastest Time: Duval (Ford) 14:18.5

Ford's Francois Duval took the first WRC stage win of his career on the second test - an uphill route which featured plenty of tight corners and a loose, stone surface. Markko Martin was second followed by Marcus Gronholm and Colin McRae. Freddy Loix was fifth. Not a good stage for the 555 Subaru team. Tommi Makinen was slowed when a problem with his car's dashboard display unit meant he couldn't see which gear he was in, he was further hampered by an intermittent handbrake problem which made tackling the numerous hairpin corners more difficult. His team-mate Petter Solberg was also struggling to drive to his full potential. A problem with his car's differentials, that had become evident on the previous stage, worsened and he spun twice losing around 20 seconds.

SS3 1023hrs Kapouras - Agios Theodoras (21.56km)
Fastest Time: Martin (Ford) 20:16.6

The opening five kilometres of the third stage were fast on a loose surface. From there the drivers tackled a mixture of medium to fast flowing bends on a smoother road. Spurred on by his stage win in Catalunya, Markko Martin took the honours with another win on stage three. Hyundai's Juha Kankkunen finished second followed by Kenneth Eriksson. Colin McRae, Marcus Gronholm and Tommi Makinen finished fourth, fifth and sixth. Championship contender Gilles Panizzi, fresh from his win in Spain, experienced a change of fortune when he rolled his Peugeot off the road. He managed to get back underway, but lost around three minutes. Petter Solberg, one of the favourites for a good result in Cyprus, continued to have wretched luck. Midway through the stage the pedal linkage to his car's electronic throttle became detached and he stopped to make emergency repairs. He managed to get going again using a cable tie wrapped around the pedal but with only about 50 per cent of the throttle available he lost three and a half minutes. After SS3 crews headed back to Limassol for a 20 minute service before repeating the same three stages in the afternoon.

SS4 1330hrs Platres - Kato Amiantos 2 (11.60km)
Fastest Time: Solberg (Subaru) 9:21.7

On the second run through the Platres test, everything finally came together for Petter Solberg. His car was back to 100 per cent after the service and the 555 Subaru team driver won his first stage of the rally. Colin McRae kept up a consistent pace to finish second, while Francois Duval surprised many, finishing third to maintain fourth place overall. Tommi Makinen was sixth. After his impressive second place on SS3 rally veteran Juha Kankkunen's rally came to and end when he cracked a sump during the stage. He made it to the end but retired on the road section on the way to SS5.

SS5 1413hrs Lagoudera - Kapouras 2 (15.00km)
Fastest Time: Makinen (Subaru) 14:11.7

Makinen too looked to be having a better time on the afternoon pass. Tommi was fastest through the 15km Lagoudera section, a repeat of SS2. The Flying Finn scored fastest time ahead of Gronholm and Solberg, who were second and third. The three were separated by just 0.7 seconds. Gronholm's time moved him just 1.8 seconds behind the overall leader, Colin McRae. Makinen's stage win promoted him to fifth overall. Duval finished in fourth position followed by Colin McRae and Loix. Meanwhile, Mitsubishi's Alister McRae was having terrible luck - he broke his third drive shaft in five stages.

SS6 1441hrs Kapouras - Agios Theodoras 2 (21.56km)
Fastest Time: C McRae (Ford) 19:51.5

Colin McRae took the stage win and extended his overall lead of the event from 1.8 seconds after SS5 to 6.9 seconds. Markko Martin and Petter Solberg tied second place while Marcus Gronholm was fourth and Harri Rovanpera fifth. Tommi Makinen was seventh fastest.

- www.swrt.com

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