Marcus Gronholm has finished second on the Swedish Rally, claiming the first podium for the all-new Peugeot 307 WRC. The Finn's strong performance has also moved him up to second overall in the driver's championship. The Finn started this...
Marcus Gronholm has finished second on the Swedish Rally, claiming the first podium for the all-new Peugeot 307 WRC. The Finn's strong performance has also moved him up to second overall in the driver's championship.
The Finn started this morning 40 seconds behind the leader, but a time-consuming spin in the slippery conditions of SS14 denied him the chance of a fourth Swedish Rally victory. Nonetheless, Marcus kept up a strong and consistent rhythm to set three fastest times today.
Deep snow covered today's fast and flowing stages, run in typically cold and wintry conditions. The final leg's action consisted of six stages, separated into two groups of three. A dramatic day yesterday proved just how difficult this world-famous rally can be, and Marcus decided not to take any risks in order to be sure of making the finish.
"After I spun this morning, I knew there was no point in risking everything to push hard," he said. "It was just a typical spin, nothing special, but it cost us half a minute. Then I concentrated on making sure that I could come back and score the first podium for the 307 WRC. The car is still very new, and this is a good result under the circumstances. I made a couple of mistakes and we also had a problem with the power steering on the first day, so I think we definitely had the possibility to win here. But there is still a lot more to come from the car – it's not perfect yet."
His team mate Freddy Loix was unfortunately forced to retire from a points-scoring position on yesterday's penultimate stage, after encountering engine problems. "It wasn't an easy rally for me," said Freddy. "The engine started misfiring on the second day, then 14 kilometres into SS12 it stopped completely. The most positive thing is that I've done more kilometres in the 307 WRC, so hopefully we can use that experience to improve our performance."
Peugeot Sport team principal Corrado Provera commented: "It is the first podium for the 307 WRC but not on the step that we hoped for. Marcus could have won, but we handicapped him by one minute with a power steering problem and lost the rally. On the one hand we are happy that the car is demonstrating its speed despite being a long way off its full potential. On the other hand, we are sad that our series of Swedish victories has been interrupted. But we have to be philosophical. We will get better!"
The World Rally Championship crosses the Atlantic Ocean for round three of the series, swapping the ice and snow of Sweden for the heat and dust of Mexico. Rally Mexico - which takes place from March 12-14 - is a brand new addition to the World Championship, based in the Mexican leather capital of Leon. The rally route is the highest of the year, with the fast gravel roads sure to provide a tough challenge for the factory Peugeots of Marcus and Freddy.