PEUGEOT ON TOP GOING INTO GERMANY Thanks to the win of Marcus Gronholm and the 3rd place of Markko Martin in Finland, Peugeot is on top of the provisional 2005 Manufacturers' World Championship standings as it turns its attention to the ...
PEUGEOT ON TOP GOING INTO GERMANY
Thanks to the win of Marcus Gronholm and the 3rd place of Markko Martin in Finland, Peugeot is on top of the provisional 2005 Manufacturers' World Championship standings as it turns its attention to the Deutschland Rally at the end of August. For the eleventh of the sixteen-round series, the French team's objective will be to add as many points as possible to its score with both drivers in order give itself the best possible chance of securing a further world title.
Of the seventeen world class wins he has obtained with Peugeot, Marcus Gronholm will doubtlessly remember his most recent success in Finland for a long time to come. The tenth round of the championship provided him with the fifth win of his career on home soil, three at the wheel of the Peugeot 206 WRC (2000, 2001 and 2002) while two were with the 307 WRC (2004 and 2005). Last year's Rally Finland was the first victory for the 307 WRC. This year's visit to Jyvaskyla brought the French car its second success and its first of 2005. The ten Manufacturers' points scored by the Finn for his team, added to the six obtained by Markko Martin, who finished an excellent 3rd in Finland, has taken Peugeot's total score to 106 points compared with 105 for Citroen. This slender margin between the two makes contrasts with the gap the two have pulled out over Ford and Subaru who follow in 3rd and 4th places with scores of 69 and 59 points respectively.
While the Drivers' championship leader Sebastien Loeb is well ahead with a total of 83 points to his name, Marcus Gronholm has passed into 2nd spot with 55 points and Markko Martin is now 4th with a score of 48 points. "At last we have obtained the sort of result we have so long been hoping for," beamed Peugeot Sport boss Jean-Pierre Nicolas after the finish in Finland. "Both drivers were remarkable. Marcus was the King of Finland and Markko put in his best performance since the beginning of the season. Our Pirelli tyres were competitive from start to finish and this result has given the team's morale a huge boost going into the final part of the season!"
Buoyed by its position, Peugeot Sport is preparing for an extremely fiercely fought conclusion to the 2005 season. Of the six remaining rounds, three will be on dirt (Great Britain, Japan and Australia) and three will take place on asphalt (Germany, Corsica and Catalonia). The first of these encounters will be the Deutschland Rally which takes place in the Triers region, close to the French and Luxembourg borders. Often described as three rallies in one, this relatively new round features a cocktail of narrow lanes that twist their way through the vineyards of the Mosel Valley vineyards, a number of faster stages further to the south and the highly specific tests organised over the Baumholder military ranges. These stages are particularly challenging and the poor state of their surface can become very muddy if it rains. And the weather can change in an instant in this corner of Germany.
The German event first counted towards the World Championship in 2002 and Peugeot has yet to win it since its promotion. Marcus Gronholm personally has bad memories of the 2004 event when he went off in the rain of Day 1. That said, the Finn has a good record, including a 3rd place in 2002 and a 2nd place in 2003. This might not be one of his favourite rallies, but he clearly has all it takes to figure well again in Germany, although he prefers to be cautious before the start. "I sincerely believe it will be difficult to go for victory in Germany as I did in Finland," he admits. "The terrain will be less favourable to us. If it rains, however, the contest could become a little more open."
Markko Martin finished 6th in the 2002 Deutschland Rally, came 5th in 2003 and was 4th in 2004. "Germany is a very special rally. The stages tend to be made up of long straights and junctions, with plenty of accelerating and braking, but few long corners. It will be interesting to see how our car/tyre package works on this highly specific terrain. I was very pleased with my result in Finland. Thanks to new suspension settings, I had a good feeling with the car. The Deutschland Rally will be different. Like Marcus, I know we will have to push hard to defend the team's chances."