PEUGEOT READY TO BATTLE HARD IN SARDINIA Round 5 of the 2005 World Rally Championship's sixteen qualifying events takes crews to Sardinia for the first in a sequence of four rough gravel events which all take place in Mediterranean rim countries.
PEUGEOT READY TO BATTLE HARD IN SARDINIA
Round 5 of the 2005 World Rally Championship's sixteen qualifying events takes crews to Sardinia for the first in a sequence of four rough gravel events which all take place in Mediterranean rim countries. Marcus Grönholm and Markko Märtin go into the first of these encounters in a strong position in the Drivers' championship, while Peugeot tops the current Manufacturers' standings. The entire team will be looking to profit from the coming rounds to continue building on its recent progress.
The first part of the 2005 season has been quite positive for Peugeot Sport. With a 12-point advantage over Citroën and a gap of 15 points over Subaru, the French squad today enjoys a useful lead in the provisional Manufacturers' championship standings. Its objective to add a fifth world crown to its record before focusing its sporting activities in other areas from 2006 would therefore appear to be a realistic goal. Meanwhile, Markko Märtin and Marcus Grönholm are respectively 3rd and 5th in the Drivers' standings and are both in the group of five drivers who have pulled out something of a gap at the top. Consistency and reliability have so far been two of the Peugeot Sport team's assets and, from the four rounds organised to date, its crews have secured seven points finishes from a possible eight. A win would be an ideal way to build on the four podiums it has obtained since the start of the season thanks to Marcus Grönholm (2nd in Mexico and New Zealand) and Markko Märtin (2nd in Sweden and 3rd in Mexico).
To give the 307 WRC every chance of reaping its first success of 2005 in Sardinia, Peugeot Sport has continued to develop the car and, with tyres poised to play a decisive role, the victory of the team's partner Pirelli on the Italian island last year is particularly encouraging^Å
Rally Italia Sardinia was included for the first time in the world calendar in October 2004 when it took over from the asphalt of the Sanremo Rally. The second running of this new event - which has switched to a late April slot - could well take place in warm weather. The Mediterranean's second biggest island, Sardinia is famous for its luxury resort Porto Rotondo which will host the ceremonial start and finish, while the route has undergone numerous revisions in comparison to the predominantly narrow, twisty stages crews discovered last year.
Marcus Grönholm finished 7th in Sardinia in 2004 after being delayed by mechanical trouble. The Finn is currently on a run of two consecutive 2nd place finishes and knows that a top result in Italy would do his championship chances a world of good: "I was delighted to come away from New Zealand with more valuable points, although I was a little disappointed of course not to have won there again. We will be able to count on our car's excellent reliability. We simply lacked a little 'plus' in New Zealand to be able to fight for victory. I am looking forward to seeing how competitive we will be in Italy where the stages will be very different to what we found in New Zealand. We will have done more work on the car since then too^Å"
Markko Märtin was a little less fortunate than Marcus Grönholm in Sardinia in 2004 when he was sidelined on the final day while running in 3rd position. "The rally takes place at a different time of year now and some of the stages are new. We will see how it goes when we get there. One thing is certain: Pirelli tyres were competitive last year and that's encouraging. Personally, I will be out to score as many points as possible of course while continuing to adapt the car's set-up to my driving style. I changed the way I drove on the final day in New Zealand and that was a little better. Our aim is to continue making progress and to defend as best we can the positions we and the team currently hold in the two championships."