RALLY FINLAND Sunday August 20th 2000 End of rally report GRONHOLM ON TOP OF THE WORLD! After his successes in February's Swedish Rally and last July in New Zealand, Peugeot-Michelin driver Marcus Grönholm collected his...
Sunday August 20th 2000
End of rally report
GRONHOLM ON TOP OF THE WORLD!
After his successes in February's Swedish Rally and last July in New Zealand, Peugeot-Michelin driver Marcus Grönholm collected his second consecutive win and his third victory of the 2000 season this afternoon in Finland.
The Finn led his home round in emphatic style from start to finish, coolly shrugging off the pressure from early challenger Richard Burns (Subaru) who crashed out at the start of Day 2 in his attempt to match the pace of Finland's new national hero.
From that point on, Grönholm was able to control from in front with relative ease as the main focus of attention turned to the scrap for second place between surprising Finnish privateer Harri Rovanpera (Toyota-Michelin) and charging Ford-Michelin's Colin McRae who set three fastest times from five on the final day. The outcome finally ended in the favour of the Scottish driver by a slender 3.4 seconds when Rovanpera, who had spent the majority of the rally as Grönholm's closest rival, incurred a ten second penalty three stages from home.
Grönholm's victory and the 2nd place finish of Colin McRae have put a whole new face on the pecking order in the 2000 World Rally Championship. While not so long ago, some believed there would be no stopping the combination of Burns and Subaru, the table has turned in emphatic fashion. Grönholm now enjoys a healthy six-point lead in the Drivers' points table, while Ford-Michelin has gone clear at the top in the Manufacturers' title chase.
And for Michelin, this weekend's result in Finland was a particularly satisfying performance. Not only was Grönholm's success the French firm's sixth of the year from nine rounds, it was also its third consecutive triumph on gravel, a fitting tribute to the recent development work put in on this type of surface by the company and its partners.
Four-times World Champion Tommi Mäkinen (Mitsubishi-Michelin) finished in fourth position in Finland, an event he has won on no fewer than five previous occasions. The Finn set one fastest time on his way to this result but was hampered in the closing stages when his co-driver, Risto Mannisenmaki, who was in some pain after a couple of particularly heavy landings after jumps, was unable to read out the pacenotes.
Peugeot Sport's decision to nominate one-off driver Sebastian Lindholm as its second 'official' driver paid off handsomely as the Finn took 5th place to collect additional championship points for the French make which has emerged as a very serious challenger indeed for the Manufacturer's title. Having said that, the man Lindholm replaced, François Delecour, finished just one position down in 6th, holding off consistent privateer Pasi Hagstrom (7th, Toyota-Michelin) despite a time-consuming roll on the very last stage.
Sole Subaru survivor Kankkunen spent much of the rally in fourth position before falling out of the top ten on Day 2 when he was forced to stop and change a punctured tyre. The Finn eventually climbed back up to 8th, squeezing past Hyundai-Michelin's Alister McRae who nonetheless allowed the Korean make to finish in the Manufacturers' points for the third time in four rallies.
Tenth place went to Estonian privateer Markko Martin (Toyota-Michelin) to make it nine Michelin runners inside the top ten at the finish!
It soon became apparent that Jani Paasonen (Mitsubishi-Michelin) would be the man to beat in Group N, the young Finn going on to win the group by the impressive margin of 1m 23.4s over the similar car of Jusso Pykalisto.
THIRD CONSECUTIVE WIN ON GRAVEL
START-TO-FINISH... Michelin collected its sixth win of the season and its third consecutive start-to-finish success on gravel after its wins in Greece (McRae, Ford-Michelin) and New Zealand (Grönholm, Peugeot-Michelin).
ALL SURFACES... Michelin's six wins in 2000 have been scored with three different manufacturer partners (Mitsubishi, Ford, Peugeot), with three different drivers (Mäkinen, Grönholm, McRae) and on all the types of stage surface that make up the World Championship: winter asphalt (Monte Carlo), ice/snow (Sweden), clear asphalt (Catalonia), rough gravel (Acropolis) and smooth gravel (New Zealand, Finland).
COOL HEAD ON STAGE 11... Given the cool early morning temperatures on Saturday (11°C), Marcus Grönholm could have been tempted to chose the Michelin ZA pattern in compound/construction 8 for SS11 (30.34 km), the day's opening stage. Instead, he made the judicious decision to run the latest generation 9 compound/construction (a harder product but which still offers excellent grip performance in the damp) with a view to favouring tread block stability. The product proved a perfect match for the conditions and the Peugeot driver was 4.8 seconds quicker than the time recorded by Richard Burns for this stage.
McRAE and the 'EVO' MICHELIN ZE... Ford was the only WRC Michelin team to select the narrow option Michelin ZE (ZE16) for Rally Finland. The latest evolution of this product was essentially used by Colin McRae who scored all of his four fastest stage times with this product.
SEVENTEEN... Michelin set a total of 17 fastest stage times from Rally Finland's 23 stages with four different drivers (Grönholm 11, McRae 4, Mäkinen and Lindholm 1).
SINCE 1983... Michelin has won Rally Finland/1000 Lakes nine times in the past ten years. The French firm has only been beaten on three occasions in Finland since 1983.