Burns is second after a dramatic day Peugeot are pinning their hopes on Richard Burns after a difficult day for the 206 WRC squad. Burns has finished leg two of the Rally Finland in second place, but had a big scare on the final two stages of...
Burns is second after a dramatic day
Peugeot are pinning their hopes on Richard Burns after a difficult day for the 206 WRC squad. Burns has finished leg two of the Rally Finland in second place, but had a big scare on the final two stages of the day when a wheel bearing broke close to the finish.
The World Championship leader's pace has been fast yet measured throughout the rally, and his remarkable consistency put a win firmly within reach up until the final stage. He will start tomorrow with Citroen driver Carlos Sainz and Subaru's Petter Solberg half a second behind him in third and fourth places!
But Richard is determined to hang onto second place despite this last-minute setback, and score a strong podium finish to extend his World Championship lead.
Richard said: "What happened in the last couple of stages slightly overshadowed the the rest of the day. We didn't have a bad start but we picked up the pace in the afternoon and everything was feeling quite good. Then of course we had the problem with the wheel bearing which cost us a lot of time. I don't think there's a chance to win now, but I'm absolutely determined to keep second place -- I've worked hard for it! Tomorrow will be like starting the rally all over again."
Today was one of the fastest and toughest days of the entire World Championship. Crews faced seven stages, including the longest test of the rally and two runs over the famous Ouninpohja stage. Ouninpohja is characterised by high speeds and flat-out crests, and it was there that Peugeot drivers Marcus Gronholm and Harri Rovanpera were forced into retirement.
Marcus grabbed the lead of the rally on the second stage of the day, in his bid to claim his fourth consecutive Rally Finland victory. He set two fastest stage times in the morning, and seemed set for a trouble-free run. But the Finn retired on the second run through Ouninpohja, SS14, when he inexplicably lost a front wheel in the final 10 kilometres of the stage.
Marcus said: "It's a real shame as I think we could have made it another win here. I was quite confident that we would be quick on all of today's stages. But what happened on SS14 was really strange. The first thing I felt was a soft brake pedal, but I thought that it was just the brakes overheating and not a serious problem. Then on quite a slow corner about 10 kilometres from the stage finish, the front-right wheel came off taking away the wheel bearing, the suspension and everything. I certainly didn't hit anything, so we will have to see what caused this problem."
Harri dropped several minutes after an accident on SS2 yesterday and was pushing hard to try and make up for lost time. On the first run through Ouninpohja this morning, SS12, Harri went off the road three kilometres into the stage and was not able to continue.
Harri commented: "I'm not completely sure what happened. We came over a crest into a slight corner, and I was careful not to cut the corner too much after what happened yesterday. But the car did not turn into the corner properly so we ended up on the other side of the road and into a bank. It's a place I know quite well, so this shouldn't have happened. It's a real pity."
Reflecting on a day of mixed fortunes for Peugeot, team principal Corrado Provera commented: "So Marcus is not going to win Rally Finland for the fourth time, and it looks like an Estonian is going to win it instead -- which he fully deserves. We have had a problem with wheel bearings that has cost Marcus the lead and also affected Richard. By some miracle Richard was able to bring the car home, but really he has done a remarkable job all day."
Six stages make up the final day of the Rally Finland, which will be run as two groups of three with service in between. The first car will leave Parc Ferme in Jyvaskyla at 0800 and the winner is expected on the podium at 1545.