Marcus Gronholm (Peugeot) scored his first victory since Argentina last year to move into the lead of the drivers' championship. His winning margin over Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) was 54.0sec and he now leads the series by a single point from the...
Marcus Gronholm (Peugeot) scored his first victory since Argentina last year to move into the lead of the drivers' championship. His winning margin over Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) was 54.0sec and he now leads the series by a single point from the Frenchman. Loeb survived a small fire at the rear of the car near the end of stage 13. Team-mate Carlos Sainz finished fourth behind Martin, ahead of Harri Rovanpera (Peugeot) who had another replacement gearbox fitted midway through the day after continued troubles. Petter Solberg (Subaru) climbed back to sixth after his opening day problems, moving ahead of team-mate Mikko Hirvonen who lost time after hitting a rock and breaking his car's power steering on the opening stage. The final drivers' point went to the M-Sport-run Focus RS of Janne Tuohino in eighth.
Results remain provisional following an investigation into the water pumps on both Peugeot 307's and Citroen Xsaras. On the 1999 Monte Carlo Rally Colin McRae was excluded for a similar infringment. Water pumps installed on WRCars must be the same as the vehicle they are homologated from. The scrutineering will be carried out on Wednesday 19th May.
The third and final Leg comprised 95.34 competitive kilometres and six stages (two groups of three). Stages were run north west of the single service park in Limassol
Despite some cloud, conditions remained dry and sunny throughout the day. Air temperatures started at 16ºC, rising to 27ºC by midday. Stages were dry and rough gravel
Peugeot driver Marcus Gronholm has won the Cyprus Rally, round five of the World Rally Championship, sealing the first-ever victory for the all-new 307 WRC. His team mate Harri Rovanpera finished fifth. Marcus now leads the World Championship after a stunningly consistent drive through difficult conditions.
Marcus Gronholm / Timo Rautiainen: "It's been a fantastic rally for me, and of course it's a real privilege to take the first win with the 307," said Marcus. "We've come close to winning before this year, but this time it was a rally where everything went right for us. The car has been generally reliable and we haven't made any mistakes. The whole team has worked very hard and everybody deserves this result. Now we are looking forward to Greece, where of course we will be trying to win again."
Harri Rovanpera / Risto Pietilainen: "I'm very pleased for Marcus and the entire team," said Harri. "It's also been a good rally for me: I could have been on the podium if we had not had some gearbox problems. Although that's disappointing, there are a lot of positive things to come out of this. I have been able to drive at the same speed as Marcus, and the car has clearly shown its potential. I feel more and more confident with the 307 WRC and I can't wait for the next rally!"
With Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena finishing 2nd and Carlos Sainz/Marc Marti 4th, the Xsara WRCs put in a superb overall performance in Cyprus where the conditions were as challenging as ever. The result sees Sebastien hold on to 2nd place in the Drivers' championship, while Carlos moves up one place to 5th. In the Manufacturers' standings, Citroën has made up most of the deficit that separated it from the leading team prior to Cyprus; a valuable harvest all in all considering that the two next rounds, Greece and Turkey, also promise to be hot and rough.
Sebastien Loeb / Daniel Elena: "Above all, I wanted a top result here in order to stay in the leading pack in the Drivers' championship. Obviously, if a chance to win had come my way, I would have snapped it up. And I certainly kept my eyes open-- but Marcus Gronholm was very quck and gave absolutely nothing away. Compared with last year, the gap between us and the winner has been divided by five and we finished one place higher, even though there were practically no retirements. That speaks volumes for the fantastic work the team has done on the car."
Carlos Sainz / Marc Marti: "It wasn't an easy rally for me. Not the sort of weekend after which you can say to yourself that everything was 100%. In fact, I didn't really have what could be considered a perfect run at any of the loops of stages. There were moments when my shockabsorbers went off and others when I had to use tyres that weren't the most competitive, simply because my quota didn't inlcude enough GW patterns which are the most resistant to wear. To have finished 4th is therefore not so bad, and a good way to prepare for Greece."
Ford retained the lead of the FIA World Rally Championship after Markko Martin and Michael Park finished third on the gruelling Cyprus Rally today. It was the fourth podium finish in five rounds for the Ford BP Rallye Sport duo and their Focus RS World Rally Car and the team leads the manufacturers' standings by two points. Martin and Park lie third in the drivers' table, just two points from the lead. Martin survived a late scare when all the gearbox oil leaked out with more than two stages remaining. "After about 5km of stage 16 we could smell oil and then the warning light came on. The gearbox was getting quite hot but all was OK. It must be a very strong gearbox to run with no oil," he said.
Markko Martin / Michael Park: "I believed it was possible for us to catch Sebastien today," said 28-year-old Martin. "But he drove very well and there was no point in taking risks because it was quite slippery this morning. If you take risks then you put more wear onto the tyres and that is counter-productive. He wasn't to be caught but I hope that will change on the next rally. We've driven well this weekend. Third was where I would have predicted we would finish and we maintained the same speed from start to finish."
Francios Duval / Stefan Prevot: Retired
Both Subaru World Rally Team drivers finished in points-winning positions in the final Leg of the Cyprus Rally. Petter continued to recover places lost due to a radiator problem on Leg one and, although unable to battle for the lead, claimed his sixth stage win of the event and moved from eighth to sixth. His team-mate Mikko Hirvonen finished seventh to collect points in both the Drivers' and Manufacturers' Championships.
Petter Solberg / Phil Mills: "For me, the rally started better than it finished and obviously I'm still disappointed about the radiator problem. But, without that it would have been a perfect rally. We should have had more points but I'm still pleased to take something away. The car is perfect and I'm sure it will be really good on the next two rallies. As far as the Championship goes, there are still plenty of rounds to go this year - so I'm focusing now on better fortunes in Greece. I'm sure the lessons we have learned here will be of great use."
Mikko Hirvonen / Jarmo Lehtinen: "The main thing is that I finished the rally. It was very, very difficult, but I came here to learn, that was my main objective and I'm happy I achieved that. To begin with I struggled a little to find a speed I was happy with but I have experimented a littled with the set up over the last three days and we certainly learnt a lot about the car and these conditions. We'll be putting some of that into practice in Greece."
Gilles Panizzi / Herve Panizzi: Retired
Kristian Sohlberg / Kaj Lindstrom: Retired
Next Event - Acropolis Rally
Round six of the 2004 FIA World Rally Championship starts in three weeks time, when teams travel to Greece for the 51st Acropolis Rally. Based around the town of Lamia, the event bears a close resemblance to Cyprus, presenting drivers with a series of rocky, dry stages. With a reputation as one of the toughest events in the Championship, a combination of searing temperatures and rough stages make it a gruelling challenge for cars and drivers alike. Beginning on Thursday 3 June with a sprint round the super special in Lilea, the Rally will conclude at on Sunday 6 June at 1453hrs.