Marcus wins in Argentina ! Reigning World Champion Marcus Gronholm has won the Rally Argentina after a brilliant comeback drive. The victory closes him to within two points of the World Championship lead, held by team mate Richard Burns ...
Marcus wins in Argentina !
Reigning World Champion Marcus Gronholm has won the Rally Argentina after a brilliant comeback drive. The victory closes him to within two points of the World Championship lead, held by team mate Richard Burns who finished third in Argentina. Harri Rovanpera was fourth in his 206 WRC, scoring his first driver points of the year. Peugeot have now increased their lead of the manufacturers' championship to 13 points over Citroen.
Marcus started today in second place, just 15 seconds behind Ford's Markko Martin. But Martin retired on the opening stage with an engine problem, so Marcus was able to set the pace until the finish. His 206 WRC was reliable throughout the event, but he lost nearly two minutes on the opening day after clipping a rock and ripping off a wheel. Marcus fought his way back from sixth to win, setting 12 fastest times en route.
He said: "I'm so happy. After our mistake on the first day I realised we had a lot of work to do in order to catch up, but the car felt good and the team did a fantastic job. I pushed very hard a lot of the time and the rally was certainly not easy. But to win for the second rally in a row feels fantastic. It's been an amazing three days."
Richard had a mistake-free rally to score yet another podium finish - his fourth of the season. The result means that he keeps the lead of the World Championship, which he has held since the Rally of Turkey two months ago. Richard was set to finish second after passing the Citroen of Carlos Sainz on the penultimate stage, but a turbo problem on the final stage dropped him to third. Richard also suffered handling difficulties on the second day that slowed him through corners. He said: "It's a pity we had a problem with the turbo because otherwise we would have finished second after a good battle with Carlos today. But these things happen in rallying and it's always good to get a podium finish and score some more points."
Harri Rovanpera was delayed by tyre problems on the first day, and bent steering for three stages of day two. However, a fighting drive saw the Finn run as high as second overall, and he eventually finished fourth. On the final day Harri concentrated on reaching the finish, as Richard was too far ahead of him to be caught. Harri commented: "It's very good to get a finish and start scoring points. This year I've been unlucky, but I hope my luck will change now. The car felt good during the rally, although I lost a bit of time over the first two days. But I think our season starts here! I'm very happy."
Peugeot Sport boss Corrado Provera said: "We're delighted to get three cars to the finish, all in excellent points-scoring positions. Marcus has taken an extraordinary victory for us, and one that we dearly wanted. Argentina is very important to us personally and commercially. I feel so sorry for Richard, who lost second place due to our mistake with his turbo. But he has done another extraordinary job, as has Harri - who takes his first points of the season. Peugeot are now 13 points ahead in the manufacturers' championship, with Richard and Marcus first and second in the driver's classification. So bravo to everyone!"
The sixth round of the World Rally Championship is the Acropolis Rally, based in Lamia, Greece, from June 6-8. Conditions will be rough and hot: yet another new challenge for the Peugeot drivers this year.