Telstra Rally Australia www.rallyaustralia.com Round 13 of the FIA World Rally Championship 1-4th November 2001 Saturday, 03 November 2001 Reigning FIA World Rally Champion Marcus GrÃ¶nholm has strengthened his lead on the penultimate round of...
Telstra Rally Australia
Round 13 of the FIA World Rally Championship
1-4th November 2001
Saturday, 03 November 2001
Reigning FIA World Rally Champion Marcus Grönholm has strengthened his lead on the penultimate round of this year's series, the Telstra Rally Australia, which continued today. The Peugeot driver and navigator Timo Rautiainen set two fastest times on this morning's opening pair of tests to more than treble their advantage over Richard Burns. They then consolidated their position with further fastest times this afternoon to arrive at this evening's Langley Park superspecial in the host city, Perth, with a 32.8s cushion.
The organisers' decision last night to not allow Colin McRae to nominate his start position for today (due to his late arrival at the selection process) affected the world championship leader badly, as he dropped nearly a minute to Grönholm and dropped to fifth. His Ford team moved François Delecour to the front of the field in an attempt to sweep some of the loose gravel off the road before the Scot. But the Frenchman crashed heavily in today's third stage, halting the test and hospitalising his navigator Daniel Grataloup with a shoulder injury.
Technical: Marcus Grönholm has been much happier with his car today, after Peugeot engineers changed all of the steering rack and power steering system at yesterday evening's final service. But team-mate Didier Auriol hit transmission problems on the day's second test, leaving the handling of his 206 snakelike on the faster sections. A change of all three differentials at the second service solved the problem. Harri Rovanperä was troubled by excessive tyre wear on his 206 on the opening pair of stages but his and Gilles Panizzi's cars ran without major problems.
Sporting: Marcus Grönholm set fastest times on all of today's stages to extend his overnight advantage. The Finn has been more satisfied with his car's handling after a complete change of the steering rack and power steering system last night. Didier Auriol was slowed slightly by wayward handling on today's second stage. The problem was traced to a transmission glitch and solved by changing all three differentials at second service. Auriol was thus able to hold onto his third position. Harri Rovanperä lost time on today's second stage after wearing out his front tyres on the first, longer test but the Finn remains in a comfortable fourth overall. Gilles Panizzi found today's tests more difficult than yesterday's but the asphalt expert still holds eighth.
Quotes: Marcus Gronholm said: "It's much better today. Now I have a car that is just as I want it to be - the steering is more precise again, like it should be. I've been pushing quite hard today but I'm still not taking any risks. Tomorrow's a short day but a lot can still happen. I'm quite confident, though."
Didier Auriol said: "The car was incredibly bad to drive when I had the transmission problem. It was virtually impossible to keep it in a straight line - it was snaking everywhere. But the mechanics did a good job and it's working fine again. I don't know if we can catch Richard tomorrow but we'll keep pushing at this level."
Technical: The Impreza WRC2001s of Richard Burns and Petter Solberg have been reliable today. Toshihiro Arai's car had to retire at the end of the day's first stage, though, after the Japanese driver hit a tree and his engine overheated.
Sporting: Richard Burns has been able to pull further clear of Didier Auriol today, but the Briton hasn't managed to match Marcus Grönholm's pace and as a result, he arrived back in Perth this evening in a relatively lonely second place. Petter Solberg, meanwhile, needed only one stage to move clear of Tommi Mäkinen and into sixth overall but the pair have swapped seconds all day and the young Norwegian eventually finished the last forest test less than three seconds behind four-times world champion. Toshihiro Arai slid into a tree on this morning's first stage and although he and navigator Glenn Macneall reached the end of the test, their engine was too badly damaged to continue.
Quotes: Richard Burns said: "I thought I might lose time to Marcus on this morning's opening stage because I didn't think I drove very well but on the second one, I thought I'd do well and he did an incredible time. But we're not about to back off and give him an easier time. We have to keep pushing."
Petter Solberg said: "It's been going quite well. We had one mousse insert in the tyre break up this morning but it happened on the road section after the first stage. In some places where there are a few rocks I've been taking it cautiously because I don't want to risk getting a puncture, but when I push hard the feeling is very good indeed. All we can do is keep trying."
Toshihiro Arai said: "The accident was my fault. I made a silly mistake going into a slow corner. I just got caught out on some slippery gravel and slid into a small tree. The front of the car was damaged and it didn't look too bad but some oil pipes behind the radiator were broken and we had to stop just before the finish of the stage."
Technical: Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz had no major mechanical problems today, although Sainz suffered two mousse insert break-ups in his tyres this morning. François Delecour's car ran reliably too until he slid off on the day's third stage and retired.
Sporting: Fourth by yesterday evening, Colin McRae forfeited his right to choose an advantageous starting position for today when he was adjudged to have turned up too late for the nomination ceremony. So instead, the Scot was seeded at the front of the field and although Ford subsequently moved François Delecour to the front in an attempt to sweep some gravel clear, the 1995 world champion knew before he started this morning that he faced an uphill struggle. It proved as much, although afternoon rain limited the damage on the final three stages. He still dropped to fifth, however, over a minute and a half behind leader Marcus Grönholm. Carlos Sainz has spent today recovering after his problems yesterday - the Spaniard ended the leg in ninth overall. Delecour - who had to take a 13-minute penalty to move ahead of McRae on the road this morning - duly swept the road clear on the first couple of stages but on the third he clipped a tree on the inside of a corner and then hit a larger tree on the outside of the bend. Navigator Daniel Grataloup was sufficiently hurt for the stage to be stopped, although the Frenchman's condition was described as 'satisfactory' this evening. He has broken ribs, a broken right collar bone, a small break of the right shoulder blade and a small collapse of the right lung.
Quotes: Colin McRae said: "I don't understand why the organisers wouldn't let me choose my position on the road for today. I was where I was supposed to be when I was called up to make my nomination, but only then did I realise they wouldn't let me do it. All we can really hope now is to hang onto fifth because even if we manage that, we're too far behind the guys in front and they've now got road position advantage over us anyway. I feel very hard done by."
François Delecour said: "I was pushing hard - maybe too hard because I was running first on the road - and I clipped a tree on the inside and it threw me across the road into another tree. It was a fifth gear place but quite narrow so we broke the tree on the outside of the corner. I stopped Colin as soon as possible because Daniel (Grataloup) was hurt and Colin and Nicky tried to help. It's a sad way to end my time at Ford."
Technical: Tommi Mäkinen suffered brake problems in this morning's opening, long stage. Freddy Loix, meanwhile, was 13 minutes late entering SS14 after a broken connection on the battery meant his Lancer wouldn't restart at the time control. He was penalised 2m 10s of road penalties as a result.
Sporting: Tommi Mäkinen lost time with his brake problems this morning and he also stalled and spun in SS15 but the Finn managed to reclaim sixth position from Petter Solberg on the last forest test. The four-times world champion reports far less aggravation from his back injury than yesterday, and his stand-in navigator Timo Hantunen has continued to adapt to his new role with increasing confidence. Freddy Loix kept his Lancer in the top ten until a broken electrical connection meant he was late into SS14, costing him 2m 10s of road penalties.
Quotes: Tommi Mäkinen said: "It's been not too bad today - my back hasn't hurt very much because the stages have been quite smooth and flowing. The spin really puzzled me - under heavy braking, the engine just stalled. Sometimes that happens if the wheels lock up but they didn't, so I can't understand it. As for tomorrow, I really want to push to get a point from this rally."
Freddy Loix said: "We arrived at SS14 very early so I switched off the engine. But when I went to turn it back on again it simply wouldn't start. I could smell something that I knew was the battery so I prodded the connections with a stick and Sven (Smeets) tried to start the engine. Suddenly, it worked. I'm disappointed, though, because we were making progress."
Technical: The Hyundai's Accent WRC2s of Alister McRae and Kenneth Eriksson have both performed reliably today.
Sporting: Again running near the front of the field, Alister McRae and Kenneth Eriksson have had to fight to keep their cars near the top ten. But the Scot benefited from Freddy Loix's problems to achieve exactly that, holding 10th overall as the crews entered the Langley Park superspecial. Eriksson has had a troublefree day but the Swede struggled again with loose gravel on most of the stages and he arrived back in Perth in 12th.
Quotes: Kenneth Eriksson said: "There has to be a better way of sorting out the running order. Use a brush on the stage beforehand or run this rally in winter when it's more damp and the roads don't have as much loose. We knew yesterday morning when we started the first stage that unless there were a lot of retirements, we didn't stand a chance and that's what's happening."
Alister McRae said: "The stages this afternoon were damp but while it made a difference, it wasn't big enough. If you look at how Colin's times compare to Marcus when they were so close yesterday, then you can see what a disadvantage we've had all rally."
Oman driver Hamed Al Wahaibi continues to be the top privateer driver. The FIA Teams Cup entrant holds 13th in his Subaru, ahead of European champion Henrik Lundgaard.
In the Group N class for more standard cars, local driver Ed Ordynski continues to hold the lead, ahead of newly-crowned category champion Gabriel Pozzo.