WRC

New Zealand report

FIA World Rally Championship Rally of New Zealand Scotsman Colin McRae was under fire before the new Zealand Rally which was the scene of his first and so far only WRC win last year. Despite many promising starts he had managed to...

FIA World Rally Championship Rally of New Zealand Scotsman Colin McRae was under fire before the new Zealand Rally which was the scene of his first and so far only WRC win last year. Despite many promising starts he had managed to get only one championship point this season; Subaru team manager David Richards was already considering moving Colin to drive only in the Asia-Pacific series. The fastest starters of the New Zealand Rally were Subaru's Carlos Sainz and Toyota's Juha Kankkunen but on the 5th special stage disaster struck for Sainz. His engine stopped mysteriously with only 5 kilometers to go on the stage and it just didn't start anymore. On the same stage Colin McRae took an 8 second lead over Juha Kankkunen. At the end of the day, after SS 11 Colin had increased his lead to 44 secs. Third was Kankkunen's teammate Didier Auriol only 7 secs behind Kankkunen. 4th was Ari Vatanen, still replacing Francois Delecour in Ford. Mitsubishi's Armin Schwarz was 5th and Vatanen's teammate Miki Biasion came 6th, 46 secs behind Vatanen. Miki heard during the rally that his wife had given birth to their second child in Italy. McRae won the first 5 stages of the second day and his lead was already 2 minutes and 9 seconds. The others tried to match his speed but the result was that they couldn't keep it on the road. Kankkunen had a small off but kept the second position. Auriol had a bigger off road excursion and hurt his transmission and dropped to 6th. Vatanen hit a tree, losing 3 minutes. Schwarz got third place but he too explored the ditches a little bit. Biasion retired with engine failure. Ari Vatanen started his charge after the accident and won the last 4 stages of the day, when McRae had started already to secure his win and preserve the car. The last day of the rally consisted of only 7 special stages with 97 SS kilometers. There was no change at the top; Colin McRae came safely home and took his second WRC win; "This was the best way to answer to my critics" he said, obviously very pleased with this win. Juha Kankkunen was happy with his second position which put him even with Carlos Sainz in the Championsip. Mitsubushi had again a good showing, Armin schwarz taking the third and Kenneth Eriksson the fourth place. Vatanen was catching Schwarz quickly but on SS 25 he lost it and hit a tree again at 160 kph and so his rally was over. Didier Auriol limped to the finish 5th and it was enough to put him in the Championship lead. The World Rally Championship isn't by no means decided yet and I'm sure we'll see a mighty battle at the 'Grand Prix of gravel roads', the Neste 1000 Lakes Rally on August 25-28th. Results of the Rally of New Zealand: 1. Colin McRae Subaru 5:39.56 2. Juha Kankkunen Toyota -2.14 3. Armin Schwarz Mitsubishi -5.31 4. Kenneth Eriksson Mitsubishi -9.42 5. Didier Auriol Toyota -11.56 6. Joe McAndrew Subaru -19.44 7. Yoshio Fujimoto Toyota -15.15 8. Brian Stokes Ford -16.09 9. Ed Ordynski Mitsu. (N) -18.54 10. Kioyshi Inoue Mitsubishi -21.59 ... World Rally Championship standing, drivers: 1. Didier Auriol 75 points 2. Juha Kankkunen 72 Carlos Sainz 72 4. Armin Schwarz 31 5. Miki Biasion 30 6. Bruno Thiry 22 7. Colin McRae 21 8. Francois Delecour 20 Ian Duncan 20 10. Kenneth eriksson 18 ... Manufacturers: 1. Toyota 128 2. Subaru 115 3. Ford 68 4. Mitsubishi 41 ... Next event: Neste 1000 Lakes Rally, Finland, August 25-28. -- =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= = Petri Karonen Email: pakar@tukki.jyu.fi = = World Rally Championship Infosystem: http://www.jyu.fi/~pakar/ = =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

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