Scotland Rally Volkswagen notes

NEWS FROM THE VOLKSWAGEN RALLY TEAM 7/6/97 McRae leads Volkswagen 1-2 in Scotland Alister McRae this afternoon (Saty) claimed a dramatic last-stage victory for the Volkswagen team in the Scottish Rally, beating his team-mate Tapio...


McRae leads Volkswagen 1-2 in Scotland Alister McRae this afternoon (Saty) claimed a dramatic last-stage victory for the Volkswagen team in the Scottish Rally, beating his team-mate Tapio Laukkanen into second place by a margin of just eight seconds. McRae, Laukkanen and their Sony, Revolution Wheels and Pirelli- backed Golf GTI 16Vs had duelled throughout the two-day event, round four of the Mobil 1 British Rally Championship, maintaining 1-2 formation all the way to the finish ramp in Dumfries. It was McRae's -- and Daventry-based co-driver David Senior's -- second British Championship victory of the season and further extends his and Volkswagen's series leads, and it was also the Lanark driver's first home international win after twice placing second in the event. Said Alister, 26: "It's great news and it's fantastic to win my home event, especially on the last stage. It's great for my championship hopes... Spot on." He paid tribute to Flying Finn Laukkanen, who posted quickest times on nine of the 15 stages compared with Alister's five stage wins. "Tapio drove absolutely brilliantly all the way and if he hadn't had a couple of mechanical problems today I doubt I would have caught him." Laukkanen and co-driver Risto Mannisenmki had a nine-second lead going into the penultimate stage, but this evaporated when they collected a 20-second penalty for checking out of service two minutes late after vital suspension repairs. Without that penalty Laukkanen would have beaten McRae to the victory rostrum by 12 seconds. "This is rallying and I know that anything can happen, so I have to be very pleased with second place for the second rally in a row," said Tapio, 27, who moves into fourth position in the championship. Steve Bagnall, of Volkswagen's UK rally partner team SBG Sport, said: "We could not be more delighted -- first and second is a dream result. It was great to have Alister win in Scotland and we also had an impeccable drive from Tapio." The rally was the hardest-fought battle ever seen in the British Championship, with McRae and Laukkanen swapping the lead a staggering nine times as they dominated the top two positions throughout the two-day event and its 143 miles of special stages. The Golf GTI v Golf GTI shoot-out began when Alister and Tapio tied for the honour of best time on stage one. McRae went on to win one further Friday stage, with Laukkanen claiming victory on six of the 10 day-one stages to hold a slender two-second overnight lead over his team-mate. Going into the final day, reigning champion Evans and Nissan's Mark Higgins held third and fourth places with just 14 seconds covering the quartet. Today's final five stages were no less dramatic: McRae edged ahead by four seconds after the first of them, only to see his advantage wiped out two stages later when Laukkanen blitzed him by 13 seconds to score another dramatic stage win. Tapio's overall lead was now nine seconds -- the greatest lead margin of the whole rally... But then came further drama: a bent rear suspension component on Laukkanen's car -- probably caused by a rock -- had to be changed before the penultimate stage and Tapio clocked out of service two minutes late, incurring a 20-second penalty. Undeterred, the plucky Finn staged the drive of his life on Stage 14, one of the longest of the rally at 16 miles, to claw back 11 seconds on McRae. As they entered the Ae forest for the final, 19-mile dash for glory, McRae and Laukkanen were once again tied for the lead, with Evans an ever-present threat just seven seconds in arrears. It was to be a grandstand finish of epic proportions, with McRae clocking a time of 18 minutes and 11 seconds and Laukkanen 18m 19s, five seconds quicker than Evans could manage. ( There was further joy for Volkswagen with Ashley Blenkhorn's Amateur Cup victory on the Scottish Rally in his clubman- specification Golf GTI 16V. Lincolnshire-based Blenkhorn, 28, finished nearly four minutes ahead of his nearest rival to score his maiden win -- and first finish -- of the season. There was no celebration for Sweden's Jrgen Jonasson, however: he was an early casualty, crashing his Golf GTI out of the rally on Friday after setting some impressive times in support of McRae and Laukkanen. RESULTS Scottish International Rally -- Round 4, Mobil 1 British Championship, 6/7.6.97 1 Alister McRae (GB) / David Senior (GB) Volkswagen Golf GTI 16V 2h 14m 35s 2 Tapio Laukkanen (SF) / Risto Mannisenmaki (SF) Volkswagen Golf GTI 16V 2h 14m 43s 3 Gwyndaf Evans (GB) / Howard Davies (GB) Ford Escort 2h 14m 57s 4 Harri Rovanpera (SF) / Voitto Silander (SF) SEAT Ibiza 2h 17m 11s 5 Robbie Head (GB) / Bryan Thomas (GB) Renault Megane 2h 20m 32s 6 David Higgins (GB) / Chris Wood (GB) Subaru Impreza 2h 21m 09s CHAMPIONSHIP POSITIONS Manufacturers 1 Volkswagen, 40 points; 2 Ford, 35; 3 Renault, 24; 4 Skoda, 19; 5 Nissan, 18; 6 SEAT, 17; 7 Peugeot, 16; 8 Honda, 14. Drivers 1 McRae, 72 points; 2 Evans, 64; 3 Head, 61; 4 Laukkanen, 48; 5 Rowe, 45, etc. Ends Further information: Nick Carter, 01530 811882 / 0860 843564

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Series BRC
Drivers Mark Higgins , Harri Rovanpera , Alister McRae , Risto Mannisenmaki , David Senior , David Higgins , Gwyndaf Evans , Howard Davies , Bryan Thomas