Peugeot in the Points in Monte Carlo Peugeot 206 WRC drivers Marcus Gronholm and Gilles Panizzi have secured the team's first points of the 2002 FIA World Rally Championship on the first round of the series, the Rallye Monte Carlo. The Finn,...
Peugeot in the Points in Monte Carlo
Peugeot 206 WRC drivers Marcus Gronholm and Gilles Panizzi have secured the team's first points of the 2002 FIA World Rally Championship on the first round of the series, the Rallye Monte Carlo.
The Finn, navigated by Timo Rautiainen, started today's final four stages in fifth position, and he concentrated on mastering the Alpine passes to hold onto that place. This year's Monte has been one of the mildest in recent memory, but even under clear blue skies the mountain roads still had frosty and icy sections to catch out the unwary.
Gronholm's nearest rival throughout the final day was Colin McRae, and the pair were separated by just a handful of seconds entering the final couple of stages. Marcus chose a safe option of tyres for the two tests, but the roads dried more than he'd expected and he dropped behind the Scot as a result. He still finished fifth overall, though. Marcus said: "I'm glad to get to the finish for Peugeot and score some points for the team. Monte has not been such a good event for the 206 in the past but this year we've been able to set some good times. I've concentrated on keeping a steady, fast speed throughout the rally and that's worked very well. Hopefully we can be fighting for the podium places in Sweden next time out."
Reigning world champion Richard Burns started this morning's stages in seventh overall, but the Englishman was less than happy with his tyre choice and he was unable to prevent team-mate Gilles Panizzi from inching past. The pair eventually finished in seventh and eighth. Richard said: "I'm glad to have finally got plenty of kilometres in the 206 under my belt, but clearly we haven't been able to really challenge here. I'm still not totally comfortable with the 206 mid-corner -- I haven't really got enough confidence to commit the throttle as early as I should. But that should come in time, and we'll be working very hard in the coming weeks to find some settings that suit me better. I already know the car's good enough, though - that's not an issue. It would be nice to have points but it's not a disaster -- a disaster would have been retirement on the opening day without the chance to learn anything."
Gilles said: "It's been quite a frustrating rally for me. We got the wrong suspension settings and we've made some bad tyre choices as well. But even when things have been better -- like they were this morning -- I don't seem to have been able to set the fastest times. I don't know why -- maybe we'll have to look at some things in the next test to see if we can find a reason why it hasn't worked so well."
Total Team Peugeot Director Corrado Provera said: "Our performance has not been totally satisfactory, especially when you consider the expectations that will be placed upon us. But on the other hand, Marcus and Timo have done a very good job and taken some points -- which was our target for this rally. We are pleased with the work that Richard and Robert have done to learn the car. And Gilles and Herve have driven very well, considering that we had an early problem which handicapped them very badly almost before the start. But we still have a lot of work to do and that will start immediately."
The FIA World Rally Championship's second round takes place in less than a fortnight. Crews move from the icy mountain passes to snowy forests for the Swedish Rally on February 1-3. The Scandinavian event has been good to Peugeot in recent years -- Marcus Gronholm and Harri Rovanpera have tasted the victory champagne there over the last two years, and the team will go to host town Karlstad aiming to score a Swedish hat-trick.