PEUGEOT WILL CONTINUE TO ATTACK IN CARDIFF! Of the five rounds still to come in 2005, Rally GB stands out as one of Peugeot's best chances to obtain a maximum points haul in its bid to retrieve the Manufacturers' title. It's also an event that...
PEUGEOT WILL CONTINUE TO ATTACK IN CARDIFF!
Of the five rounds still to come in 2005, Rally GB stands out as one of Peugeot's best chances to obtain a maximum points haul in its bid to retrieve the Manufacturers' title. It's also an event that Marcus Gronholm has already won, while Markko Martin has regularly produced top performances in the British classic.
Peugeot Sport knew that the recent all-asphalt Rally Deutschland was not going to be easy. Only rain could perhaps have tipped the event in the 307 WRC pair's favour, but the three-day event was marked by bright sunshine from start to finish. Even so, Marcus Gronholm and Markko Martin put in yet another strong team result, with both drivers finishing in the points thanks to 3rd and 4th places for the Finn and the Estonian respectively. In Great Britain, the two drivers will have their sights set even higher still. As in Finland, where Marcus claimed the team's first victory of the season, they are keenly aware that the anticipated showdown in the challenging Welsh forests should provide them with a chance to showcase not only their own talent but also the potential of the 307 WRC.
Wales Rally GB is the twelfth of the sixteen-round 2005 World Championship. After the trip to Cardiff, the calendar concludes with the last two loose surface outings of the year (Japan and Australia) and two asphalt rounds (Corsica and Spain). With a current score of 117 points to its name compared with 123 for Citroen and 72 for Ford, the only possible tactic for Peugeot in Wales is outright attack. In the Drivers' standings, the gaps are even bigger: the provisional championship leader Sebastien Loeb (93 points) profited from the Deutschland Rally to extend his advantage over his closest chaser Marcus Gronholm (61 points), while Petter Solberg and Markko Martin follow in 3rd and 4th places on 55 and 53 points respectively.
One of world class rallying's most prestigious fixtures, Wales Rally GB -- formerly known as the RAC Rally -- continues to be one of the highlights of the season. For many years it was organised as the final round of the year and took place in November, but last year saw it move to a new September slot, a switch that could well have a big influence on the prevailing weather conditions.
After finishing 2nd in 2000, Marcus Gronholm won the event outright in 2001 with the Peugeot 206 WRC but has since failed to reach the finish. The Finn is currently in top form, however, and has every intention of getting back into his winning ways. "I do like the Welsh stages," he says. "The conditions in some events can change significantly from one day or even one stage to the next, but the Rally GB stages rarely spring any surprises; they are practically always tough and extremely slippery. The event's new date could obviously change all that however. It is difficult to evaluate our chances right now of making up the gap in the Drivers' championship, but we know our car is very competitive on the loose and I have every intention of giving it my absolute best to try and win in Wales."
Markko Martin has also competed on this event many times in the past. It is effectively here that his memorable scrap with Petter Solberg saw him produce one of his first top performances at world level. But despite being extremely quick over this type of terrain, the Estonian has met with little success in Wales since that epic clash. "Wales Rally GB is an event I really enjoy, but I have frequently encountered problems in the past, as in 2001 and 2003 when I retired because of mechanical trouble," he points out. "I didn't have much luck last year either. That said, the stages suit my driving style and I know I can be competitive over this type of terrain. My objective is to give it my very best and I sincerely believe I have a chance of going well this time round." Extremely consistent, Martin is the only driver to have come away from every round since the start of the season in the points. Yet despite finishing four times on the podium in 2005 (Sweden, Mexico, Cyprus and Finland), he has yet to finish on the highest step in Peugeot colours. But like his Finnish team-mate, he is conscious that victory is by no means out of the question in Cardiff.