Magic Marcus wins in Sweden. Reigning World Champion Marcus Gronholm was tonight celebrating his first win of the 2003 season on the Swedish Rally. Marcus and Timo Rautiainen took the lead on Friday's stage two and maintained their advantage...
Magic Marcus wins in Sweden.
Reigning World Champion Marcus Gronholm was tonight celebrating his first win of the 2003 season on the Swedish Rally. Marcus and Timo Rautiainen took the lead on Friday's stage two and maintained their advantage until the end of the rally, finishing 50.8 seconds ahead of Subaru driver Tommi Makinen. Marcus had no problems today and was able to drive conservatively to the finish.
Richard Burns and Robert Reid finished third, making it two Peugeots in the top three. Peugeot has now moved up to second in the manufacturers' championship, just two points behind Citroen.
Marcus said: "Sweden is one of my favourite rallies, so it feels fantastic to win here for the third time. I always have a very good feeling in the snow, and the car has been brilliant throughout the rally. Today was all about trying to stay in front and not take any risks. Although Tommi was driving very quickly, I felt confident that we had a big enough gap today to keep him behind us. Luckily that was the case, but this rally is never easy under any circumstances."
Richard too decided not to take any risks today, in order to maximise his score for Peugeot. The Englishman's 206 WRC was completely reliable, and he was able to secure third place: his best-ever result on the Swedish Rally.
He said: "I realised this morning that there was no real hope of catching Tommi in second without taking very big risks. So I decided to settle for third place, which is the highest I've ever finished in Sweden. It's a very specialised event, and I'm delighted to finish on the podium."
Harri Rovanpera was forced to retire on stage eight after a bizarre accident that also eliminated the privateer Peugeot of Juuso Pykalisto. Juuso was stopped on the stage after a roll, but Harri received no warning of this and could not avoid crashing into him.
Team Peugeot Total principal Corrado Provera commented: "This was our 21st victory in total, our fourth win in Sweden, and the 13th triumph of Marcus Gronholm. Richard has done an excellent job as well to bring us the points for third place. Now we have moved up one position in the manufacturers' championship and placed both our drivers in an excellent position on the drivers' points table. The 2003 season starts for us in Sweden!"
The next scheduled round of the World Championship is the Rally of Turkey, which takes place from February 26 to March 2.