WRC

Portugal Story

McRAE & GRIST WIN Rally of Portugal - Final Leg - 25 March, 17:20 +0100 Victory is what they came for and it was richly deserved. The 555 Subaru World Rally Team crew of Colin McRae and Nicky Grist put in a crushing display...

McRAE & GRIST WIN Rally of Portugal - Final Leg - 25 March, 17:20 +0100 Victory is what they came for and it was richly deserved. The 555 Subaru World Rally Team crew of Colin McRae and Nicky Grist put in a crushing display of supremacy in the first true gravel event of the 1998 FIA World Rally Championship to win by 2.1 seconds over Carlos Sainz. In the first real test of competitiveness this year, McRae and Grist dominated the Rally of Portugal from the outset, never once loosing the lead they established on special stage 3. On today’s final eight stages and 100 competitive kilometres, young Belgian Loix attempted to mount the pressure on McRae, but a late transmission problem put paid to his hopes. Sainz took over second place and pushed relentlessly to a thrilling showdown on the final stage. But Colin was never prepared to relinquish his victory and the ten points that have put his and the 555 Subaru World Rally Team’s Championship hopes back on track. Colin is now six points off the lead in the Drivers’ Championship and, in the all-important Manufacturers’ Championship, Subaru have narrowed the gap considerably and a mere four points is all that separates first from fourth. "This is just what we needed!" said Colin. "Winning was the only option for us here and ten points has put us back in contention and where we should be. The rally has not been without its problems but we won and that’s what counts. Today was tough for us - we were clearing the gravel off the road and Carlos had a big advantage running third, and that’s why we lost a fair amount of time. It was a close battle with Carlos right to the end - maybe just a bit too close!" said a delighted Colin. Team-mates Piero Liatti and Fabrizia Pons finished in sixth position, adding to the tally of points that have put 555 Subaru within easy reach of taking the lead in the Manufacturers’ Championship in Spain. The Italian crew have had a trouble-free run in the Subaru Impreza 555 and put in a solid performance for the team. Choking dust left hanging in the air did little to aid Piero’s attack on fifth-placed Ari Vatanen today, and left co-driver Fabrizia Pons virtually speechless for most of the rally. Sixth place and four seconds off fifth position, amid such a formidable field of former World Champions, is a creditable performance for Piero in his first full World Championship season. "For me it is disappointing but I found it quite difficult because the conditions on the stages changed each time. On one stage there would be many small rocks and then on the next it would be very clean," said Piero. "It was my first time in Portugal, so I suppose that is one reason, but I was sorry not to catch Ari and move into fifth position. Obviously I am very happy for Colin, Nicky and the 555 Subaru World Rally Team. Spain will be my turn to win. I have finished second for two years running - that will not happen again!" The fifth round of the 1998 FIA World Rally Championship takes place in Spain (20-22 April) where the 555 Subaru World Rally Team won in 1995 and 1996, and Piero Liatti narrowly missed out on victory in 1997 by seven seconds.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Colin McRae , Nicky Grist , Fabrizia Pons , Piero Liatti