After a challenging 380 competitive kilometres in the Welsh forests, the Rally of Great Britain brought the 2001 FIA World Rally Championship to a close and Hyundai crews Alister McRae and David Senior, and Kenneth Eriksson and Staffan Parmander...
After a challenging 380 competitive kilometres in the Welsh forests, the Rally of Great Britain brought the 2001 FIA World Rally Championship to a close and Hyundai crews Alister McRae and David Senior, and Kenneth Eriksson and Staffan Parmander drove an outstanding rally to bring their Accent WRCs to the finish in fourth and ninth positions overall, claiming a further four manufacturer points to boost the total for the Korean marque.
McRae and Senior illustrated the speed the team has always known the Accent WRC to have on their home event. They consistently set top ten stage times throughout the rally, pushed as hard as they dared and achieved their best result to date to take three manufacturer and driver points, on their final event for the team.
"It's an excellent way to finish the season and I'm really pleased with fourth place," said McRae. "The team has worked so hard all year and this event has gone really well - the car has run faultlessly, the tyres have worked well and I've really enjoyed rally. The team has not had the results it deserves and this result is definitely long overdue. It's also a fantastic way to finish with Hyundai."
Swedish team-mates Eriksson and Parmander, also on their swansong event for the team, drove consistently despite the fog that plagued so many of the stages for the first two legs of the event, to score their first driver point of the season and a further manufacturer point.
"This event was difficult as it was very foggy and there was a lot going on, but I am really pleased with our result. I am looking forward to a new challenge next year, but it is a pity to leave Hyundai when it has been hard from the beginning and we have all invested so much effort into making the car as competitive as possible and we have just secured our best result," he concluded.
The 2001 season highlighted a significant step forward in the development of the Accent WRC, with the Rally of Great Britain the culmination of a number of successes over the year. The Hyundai Castrol World Rally Team began the year with the first evolution of the car, the Accent WRC and bagged five manufacturer points on the first two events in Monte Carlo and Sweden. Portugal saw the launch of the WRC, the second generation Accent, at which a further point was secured, equalling the team's total of eight points in the previous season. Cyprus was the next event to permit a points boost, followed by an unexpected result in Corsica taking the team's total to thirteen. The result in Great Britain means that Hyundai ends the season on 17 manufacturer points, remarkably the same total as Skoda for the second year running.
David Whitehead, Team Principal, was obviously pleased with the result, "Both Alister and Kenneth did a wonderful job here and for Kenneth it was a pity he had the problem with the wipers as it diminished the fight between him and Armin [Schwarz]. But this is the best result we have achieved to date, with both drivers scoring driver and manufacturer points and for that reason it is a reward for all the effort put in over the last four years by Kenneth, Alister and the team members, and it bodes very well for next year."
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The fight between the top three cars continued throughout the final day of the event, with Peugeot's Harri Rovanpera moving into second position behind team-mate Marcus Gronholm, to score maximum points for Peugeot and comfortably take the Manufacturer's Championship. Richard Burns (Subaru) slipped into third position but he had no reason to fight any harder as a third place was enough to secure the Drivers World Championship - the first Englishman to achieve the accolade.
The 2002 FIA World Rally Championship will kick off with the regular season-opener, the Rallye Monte Carlo, from 18-20 January, based out of the affluent tax-haven of Monaco.