Markko MÃ¤rtin breaks Finnish stranglehold! For the first time since Didier Auriol won the "1000 Lakes" Rally for Lancia- Michelin in 1992, a non-Finn has succeeded in beating the home-grown stars in Finland's round of the World Rally ...
Markko Märtin breaks Finnish stranglehold!
For the first time since Didier Auriol won the "1000 Lakes" Rally for Lancia- Michelin in 1992, a non-Finn has succeeded in beating the home-grown stars in Finland's round of the World Rally Championship. That man is Markko Märtin who gave the new Ford Focus WRC its second win from four starts. The Estonian completed the fastest round of the championship ahead of Subaru's Petter Solberg (2nd) and Peugeot-Michelin driver Richard Burns (3rd) to bring Michelin an historic 200th World Championship win.
"The question is not if Michelin will score its 200th WRC win here, but who will give it to them.," teased Markko Märtin just before the start of the 2003 Rally Finland! Four days later, to the delight of the 10,000 Estonians who had travelled across the Baltic Sea to cheer on their new national hero, it was effectively the Ford driver who took the champagne at the Jyväskylä finish to notch up Bibendum's double century in world class rallying.
Märtin took command after Thursday evening's short super-special (SS1), momentarily lost it the following day when defending champion Marcus Grönholm (Peugeot-Michelin) inched slightly clear, but then regained it on Saturday afternoon when his Finnish rival was forced out with a wheel- bearing failure.
With his principal threat out of the running, and despite a scare with an electronics-related problem at about the same time as Grönholm disappeared, the 27-year old Ford driver was able to cruise home to collect the second win of his career following his recent success in Greece.
In addition to Märtin's assertive run, the spectators were treated to a fabulous fight for second place between Richard Burns (Peugeot-Michelin), Petter Solberg (Subaru) and Citroën-Michelin's Carlos Sainz and Colin McRae, the silver medal eventually going to Solberg following a tremendous last-day charge from the Norwegian.
Burns consolidated his lead in the Drivers' World Championship with 3rd place, while the combined performance of Sainz (4th) and his teammate Sébastien Loeb (5th) brought Citroën sufficient points to edge closer to Peugeot in the Manufacturers' points table following the retirement of Grönholm and fellow 206 WRC driver Harri Rovanperä (accident). Colin McRae was eliminated by a frightening roll on the Saturday afternoon.
Next round: Australia (September 4th-7th)