Today's final day of competition in Sanremo began at 0600hrs this morning when 36 of the original 53 starters left parc ferme to travel east to central service park in Imperia. Comprising just four stages, which ran twice over two twisty ...
Today's final day of competition in Sanremo began at 0600hrs this morning when
36 of the original 53 starters left parc ferme to travel east to central service park in Imperia.
Comprising just four stages, which ran twice over two twisty asphalt routes located to the north of the town, Leg 3 presented crews with a further 88.02 competitive kilometres. Despite a chilly start, weather conditions brightened throughout the day bringing blue skies, warm temperatures and dry stages.
Peugeot's Gilles Panizzi maintained his overnight lead and drove a faultless Leg to win the rally and make it a hat trick of victories at this Italian event. His team-mate, Marcus Gronholm, finished second, 20.9 seconds behind.
However, all eyes were on 555 Subaru driver Petter Solberg who put in a fantastic performance at the wheel of his Impreza to finish third and claim his first ever WRC asphalt podium position. As the only driver in the field to seriously trouble the front runners and the only non-French team pilot to claim a stage win (three in total), the promising Subaru star certainly proved himself during this event as an all-round championship contender.
SS15 0757hrs Pantasina 1 (25.03km)
Fastest time: Solberg (Subaru) 14:55.2
Continuing yesterday's charge, 555 Subaru driver Petter Solberg was fastest on the first run through the long and twisty Pantastina stage and finished 0.3 seconds ahead of the overnight leader Gilles Panizzi who was second. The charge extended his overall lead over Richard Burns, who was third fastest, to 22 seconds and with just three stages left to run he was looking good for a podium finish. By the end of SS15, he lay 35.8 seconds behind Marcus Gronholm in the overall standings. Ford's Markko Martin finished fifth, five seconds behind Burns, leaving him with work to do if he was to make up the overall deficit to claim fourth in the final stages. Panizzi remained overall leader, with a valuable 23.6 advantage.
SS16 0850hrs Mendatica 1 (18.98km)
Fastest time: Gronholm (Peugeot) 12:03.0
Despite the Peugeot's re-stamping their dominance on SS16, by clinching another top three, the overall standings remained unchanged at the end of the tricky 19km test. Gronholm, on a charge to catch overall leader Panizzi, finished quickest, with the asphalt ace and team-mate Burns finishing 3.1 seconds behind in joint second. Martin was fourth fastest, and dropped a further five seconds to Burns. At the end of the test, the young Estonian lay 16.3 seconds behind the Brit in fourth overall. 555 Subaru star Solberg was fifth and maintained overall third between Gronholm and Burns who lay in second and third respectively.
SS17 1128hrs Pantastina 2 (25.03km)
Fastest time: Burns (Peugeot) 14:51.4
The tension mounted in the penultimate test of the day as Burns continued to apply pressure on third-placed Petter Solberg by setting the fastest pace and taking the stage win. However, the Brit's charge was not enough to catch the Subaru star in the overall standings and Solberg kept his head to finish third fastest and maintain a 13.9 second advantage over his rival. Gilles Panizzi was second fastest and kept the overall lead, a comfortable 23.5 seconds ahead of Marcus Gronholm. At the end of the stage the overall top six remained unchanged.
SS18 1221hrs Mendatica 2 (18.98km)
Fastest time: Gronholm (Peugeot) 12:01.0
There were no upsets on the last stage of the Rally Sanremo. Ending the rally as he started it, Marcus Gronholm was fastest through the Mendatica stage and raced home to clinch his sixth stage win and secure second place overall. Panizzi finished fourth and won the rally by a margin of 20.9 seconds. Fellow Peugeot driver, Burns, finished second fastest, 1.4 seconds ahead of Solberg, who was fourth. However, it was not enough to challenge the Norwegian's overall third position and Petter finished the Rally 12.5 seconds ahead of his ex-team mate, who had to settle for fourth. Markko Martin, the highest running Ford in the event, finished sixth fastest and secured fifth position overall.
The Next Event
Round 12 of the 2002 World Rally Championship, starts in two weeks time when teams travel to the other side of the world for Rally New Zealand. Comprising a total of 414.04 competitive kilometres located around Auckland, the event starts on 3rd October.