Peugeot Back To its Winning Ways? The Rally Argentina, eighth round of the sixteen-round 2004 World Championship, could well be the opportunity Peugeot is waiting for to return to its winning ways as the season reaches its halfway...
Peugeot Back To its Winning Ways?
The Rally Argentina, eighth round of the sixteen-round 2004 World Championship, could well be the opportunity Peugeot is waiting for to return to its winning ways as the season reaches its halfway stage. After three 2nd-place finishes so far this year, Marcus Grönholm will be looking to make the most of this chance to get back into the title chase, while Harri Rovanperä, who was poorly rewarded for his excellent run in Turkey, is also fired up for the visit to South America.
One of the traditional high spots of the world rally calendar, the Rally Argentina is renowned for the challenge of its stages, the breathtaking beauty of its landscapes and the unfailingly warm welcome of the local population. Its stages place the accent on driver skill, although the route can be rough in places and strewn with rocks that are an uncompromising test for tyres and suspensions. But after the recent tour of Cyprus, Greece and Turkey, the championship's regulars have become accustomed to worse and are delighted at the prospect of returning to this superb country!
Peugeot Sport is aware that it will not only have to be competitive in Argentina - which it effectively has been in the majority of the events that have taken place so far this year - but that it will also have to come away with a top points haul if it is to make up lost ground in the championship. The combination of the invalidation of its result in Cyprus, the first of the three events that made up the WRC's recent 'Mediterranean Tour', and the retirements of Marcus Grönholm in Greece and Harri Rovanperä in Turkey have kept the French squad out of the big points and hampered its bid to keep up with its rivals in the title chase. With a score of 47 points to its name, the team is currently 4th in the provisional Manufacturers' standings, 33 points adrift of the leading team, while Marcus Grönholm is 4th in the Drivers' classification, 21 points down. These are big gaps, but with nine rounds of the championship still to come, the battle is by no means over.
Marcus Grönholm still has every chance of climbing back up the order and he will be out to make the most of every opportunity that comes his way, including of course the forthcoming trip to Argentina. The Finn is in excellent form, more motivated than ever and, with three 2nd places to his name this year, he has demonstrated that the 307 WRC has winning potential.
Victory in Argentina is effectively a real possibility. Marcus won the 2003 event, notching up in the process the fifteenth and, for the moment, the most recent WRC success of his career. The two-times World Champion's other results in the South American fixture include a 4th place in 1997 and a 2nd place in 2000.
Harri Rovanperä's personal record also boasts some strong results in Argentina. He won the 2-litre category there in 1997, was again present in 1998 and 1999 but was absent in 2000 before returning with Peugeot in 2001. The Finn failed to finish that year and also retired in 2002. However, 4th place in 2003 enabled him to compound Peugeot's close-formation finish which saw Grönholm (1st) and Richard Burns (3rd) both finish on the podium. Harri will be particularly fired up for this year's Rally of Argentina following his recent showing in Turkey where he posted some excellent stage times.