BRC

Ford Puma Banbury Rally final report

RALLY CHAMPIONS FORD SCORE 100 POINTS Ford celebrated the final round of the all-new Formula Rally championship today (Saturday) with a storming drive to second place on the Banbury Rally by Puma driver Martin Rowe. His podium finish boosted ...

RALLY CHAMPIONS FORD SCORE 100 POINTS

Ford celebrated the final round of the all-new Formula Rally championship today (Saturday) with a storming drive to second place on the Banbury Rally by Puma driver Martin Rowe. His podium finish boosted Ford's winning score in the manufacturers' championship to a dominant 100 points (the maximum possible score), maintained Ford's position as the 'most-winning' team this season (with four victories) and boosted Martin's own points total to a table-topping 42.

Martin's climb back drive in the Puma Super 1600 after some early suspension problems was a dramatic feature of the event. The Banbury Rally proved a fitting climax to the Formula Rally season when the three leading drivers - Justin Dale, David Higgins and Rowe - went into the final night-time stage at Silverstone, stage 14, separated by just 10 seconds, with everything to play for.

Ultimately 29-year old Rowe's victory hopes were frustrated. Having slashed his earlier second deficit to single figures, he overhauled Higgins on the very last stage to claim second place, but was unable to catch the flying Dale, trailing by just 9.7 seconds after 233 miles of rallying.

"I'm disappointed to have made up so much ground today, but not quite enough to win," confessed Rowe. "We've driven absolutely flat out all day and for the rally winner to be in doubt with just one stage to run should make great television. This afternoon the Puma was flying, just perfect, but this morning we suffered an oil leak from the left front damper which made the car's handling very unpredictable. We had to drive four stages in that condition before both front dampers could be changed at the service halt. After that we were playing catch-up and we very nearly did..."

Rowe's second place means that he ties with Dale on 42 points - counting only the best 5 scores. However Dale wins the drivers' championship on the official tie break rules. While both drivers have three victories, Dale has three 2nd places to Rowe's two, and therefore takes the title.

Rowe's regular team mate in the second Rapid Fit Puma Super 1600, 42-year old French ace Patrick Magaud, was sidelined by fuel pump failure on the road section after stage seven.

Philip Dunabin, Engineering Manager at Ford Racing, was pleased to push Ford's manufacturers' points tally to 100. "Martin's charge during the afternoon to make up time lost this morning was a fantastic effort. This year, he has finished on the podium in six of the seven rallies and has played the major role in securing the championship crown for Ford. I think well driven Super 1600 cars have demonstrated that they can deliver closely matched competition and exciting entertainment. Ford Racing will continue with its Puma Super 1600 programme next year."

<pre> RESULTS - THE PRODRIVE BANBURY RALLY Formula Rally Championship - Round 7, 10 November 2001

1 Justin Dale / A Bargery       Peugeot GTi     50 min 52.8 sec.
2 Martin Rowe / C Woods         Ford Puma       51 min 02.5 sec
3 David Higgins / M Gibson      VW Polo         51 min 04.3 sec
4 Max McKillen / N Beech        Citroen Saxo    52 min 23.2 sec
5 Martin Sansom / P Wells       Peugeot GTi     52 min 37.8 sec
6 Simon Mauger / A Street       Proton Satria   52 min 41.7 sec
7 Barbara Armstrong / I Thomas  Peugeot 206     53 min 25.8 sec

Championship Positions (after final round of 7*) Drivers 1 Justin Dale (Champion) Martin Rowe 42 points. 3 Patrick Magaud 15 pts. 4 Francois Duval 14 pts. 5 Martin Sansom David Higgins 11 pts. 7 Simon Mauger 10 pts. 8 Mats Andersson 9 pts. 9 David Henderson 4 pts. 10 Max McKillen 3 pts.

Manufacturers 1 Ford 100 points (Champions). 2 Peugeot 85 pts. 3 Volkswagen 48 pts. 4 Proton 45 pts. * only 5 scores from seven rounds may be counted. </pre>

-Ford Puma Rallye-

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Series BRC
Teams Citroën World Rally Team