Burns stretches his championship advantage Peugeot driver Richard Burns has extended his World Championship lead after a strong third-placed finish on the Rally Australia. His team mate Harri Rovanpera has ended the rally in seventh. Richard...
Burns stretches his championship advantage
Peugeot driver Richard Burns has extended his World Championship lead after a strong third-placed finish on the Rally Australia. His team mate Harri Rovanpera has ended the rally in seventh.
Richard now has a seven-point advantage in the title race, thanks to another fast and reliable drive over the three days of the Australian event. The Englishman had no mechanical problems throughout the rally, and enjoyed today's final four stages.
Conditions were damp today, which made the surfaces even more challenging than usual. The action included the famous Bunnings Jumps, one of the most spectacular features of the entire World Championship and the traditional finale to Rally Australia.
Richard said: "It's been a very good rally for us and I'm delighted to take a podium finish for myself and Peugeot. On the opening day I lost a bit of time through running first on the road and sweeping away loose gravel. My road position was better on the second day, although I had a slight handling imbalance in the afternoon. Today was mostly a question of getting to the finish, as it was impossible to catch the cars in front of me. We're in a good situation for the championship but Petter and Sebastien drove very well here. I'm sure they will be a big threat on the last four rounds as well."
Harri ended the rally in a points-scoring seventh place after a problem-free day. The Finn lost time with brake problems and a bad tyre choice on the opening day; then he was handicapped by an unfavourable road position on leg two. He chose to drive carefully through the remaining stages in order to make sure of finishing and scoring valuable points.
Harri said: "It's not been a brilliant rally for us but not a total disaster either. We had too many problems on the first day; otherwise we could have been challenging at the front. From then on it was a question of salvaging what we could, and in the end we managed to finish and score some points. I had a good feeling on today's stages, but I was also driving very safely."
Reigning World Champion Marcus Gronholm retired on day one after leading the rally and setting two fastest stage times. The Finn slid off the road at the end of SS8 and lost more than 16 minutes.
Peugeot Sport boss Corrado Provera commented: "Each team has its giant: Subaru has Petter Solberg who did a magnificent job here and Citroen has Sebastien Loeb who also deserved to win after a fantastic battle. After we lost Marcus, it was going to be difficult to fight for the win: even with a driver as talented and reliable as Richard. Richard has put in another excellent performance and extended his World Championship lead, while we are now equal with Citroen in the manufacturers' championship. Nothing is gained but nothing is lost either!"
The World Championship now enters a frenetic month of activity, with three asphalt rallies during October. First up is the Sanremo Rally from October 3-5. The event sees the return of Peugeot's asphalt ace Gilles Panizzi, who has won in Italy for the last three years.