Ford maintain lead despite Corsican troubles Ford continue to lead the FIA World Rally Championship despite a disappointing result on the Tour of Corsica rally which ended today. They will start the penultimate round of the 14-event series in...
Ford maintain lead despite Corsican troubles
Ford continue to lead the FIA World Rally Championship despite a disappointing result on the Tour of Corsica rally which ended today. They will start the penultimate round of the 14-event series in Australia next month with a seven point advantage in spite of not scoring on the Mediterranean island.
François Delecour and Daniel Grataloup finished the three-day asphalt event in 10th in their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car, one position ahead of Ford Martini team-mates Colin McRae and Nicky Grist. The third Focus RS of Carlos Sainz and Luis Moya retired on the opening day.
The twisty roads winding around Corsica's craggy rock faces proved demanding on driver concentration, tyre performance and braking capabilities. The uncertainty of the weather high in the mountains offered additional challenges and sudden downpours twice caught drivers on soaking roads with dry weather tyres fitted to their cars.
Delecour, fifth overnight, suffered brake problems throughout most of today's four speed tests, covering 111.68km, and lost more than 5min 30sec. "The brake pedal went to the floor 10km after the start of the first stage and we had to drive the rest of the test and the next one with no brakes," said the 39-year-old Frenchman.
"The team then tried to make repairs at service and we bled the brakes before the start of the next stage and although a lot of air came out we didn't have time to finish the job completely. They were fine for the first 10km but then the pedal went to the floor again. We locked the centre differential before the final test but it made no difference. It was certainly interesting driving in the wet with no brakes!" he added.
In contrast McRae had a troublefree day but had little to aim for and climbed just one place following the retirement of Neil Wearden. "We persevered and got to the end and that's about all I can say," said the 33-year-old Scot. "Corsica is a very difficult rally. There's no room for error on the narrow roads and there are some big drops waiting if you make a mistake.
"This was a weekend to forget but we're still joint leaders in the championship and in the best position we've ever been in going into the final two rounds. Only Richard Burns scored any points among the title contenders so the championship is not that different now to how it was three days ago. If we can win the next round in Australia it will take a lot of the pressure off us," added McRae.
Ford Martini team director Malcolm Wilson was not downhearted despite the disappointing result. "Obviously we hoped for better but to go into the final two rounds with a seven point championship lead is a good position. The Focus RS has proved its potential on gravel and we remain confident for the final two rounds on that surface," he said.
News from our Rivals
Jesus Puras (Citroen) scored his maiden world rally victory, despite a nervous final stage which he drove in streaming wet conditions on dry weather tyres. His winning margin over Gilles Panizzi (Peugeot) was 17.5sec. Panizzi dropped 15sec on the second test with brake troubles and was unable to recover to claim his second consecutive win. Team-mate Didier Auriol lost 25sec with a puncture on the same stage and settled for third, giving Peugeot their second maximum points haul in two rallies. Petter Solberg (Subaru) was placed fourth but he deliberately incurred a time penalty at the final service to allow team-mate Richard Burns to move ahead and boost his title hopes with an extra point. Markko Martin (Subaru) claimed the final drivers' point while team-mates Piero Liatti and Alister McRae took the final manufacturers' points for Hyundai. The only retirement of note today was Austrian Achim Mörtl who crashed in the penultimate stage.
FIA Super 1600 Championship
It was another tough day for the junior world championship contenders. Norway's Martin Stenshorne claimed a point by finishing sixth in a Ford Puma and he now lies fourth in the championship. Paraguay's Alejandro Galanti was 10th in his Puma. Final day retirements included the Pumas of Patrick Magaud with a broken gearbox and Saladin Mazlan with a damaged radiator.
There is little respite for drivers in this hectic end to the season. The series reverts to gravel for the penultimate round, Rally Australia, based in Perth from 1 - 4 November. <pre> Final positions 1. J Puras/M Marti E Citroen Xsara 3hr 58min 35.5sec 2. G Panizzi/H Panizzi F Peugeot 206 3hr 58min 53.0sec 3. D Auriol/D Giraudet F Peugeot 206 3hr 59min 47.4sec 4. R Burns/R Reid GB Subaru Impreza 4hr 03min 28.6sec 5. P Solberg/P Mills N Subaru Impreza 4hr 03min 29.4sec 6. M Martin/M Park EE Subaru Impreza 4hr 03min 57.1sec 7. H Rovanperä/R Pietilainen FIN Peugeot 206 4hr 06min 02.4sec 8. P Liatti/C Cassina I Hyundai Accent 4hr 06min 44.7sec 9. A McRae/D Senior GB Hyundai Accent 4hr 07min 28.2sec 10 F Delecour/D Grataloup F Ford Focus RS 4hr 08min 41.6sec
FIA World Rally Championship (after round 12 of 14) Drivers 1= C McRae 40pts 1= T Mäkinen 40pts 3. R Burns 34pts 4. C Sainz 33pts 5. H Rovanperä 27pts 6. G Panizzi 22pts
Manufacturers 1. Ford 83pts 2. Peugeot 76pts 3. Mitsubishi 67pts 4. Subaru 55pts 5. Skoda 15pts 6. Hyundai 13pts
-Ford World Rallye Sport-