Summary The final day of the 2002 Cyprus Rally resumed this morning at 0800hrs when the 33 remaining cars left Limassol Parc Ferme. The day comprised six special stages and a competitive distance of 80 kilometres. The first loop of three stages...
Summary The final day of the 2002 Cyprus Rally resumed this morning at 0800hrs when the 33 remaining cars left Limassol Parc Ferme. The day comprised six special stages and a competitive distance of 80 kilometres. The first loop of three stages was dry and rocky, but by the afternoon there were more rain showers - light on SS17 with heavy downpours on SS19 and SS20.
The action in Cyprus went right to the finish line. Overnight leader Colin McRae lost his position after two separate accidents and Marcus Gronholm took the lead, which he held until the end.
A thrilling battle developed between Richard Burns and 555 Subaru World Rally Team driver Tommi Makinen, and although in the end the Finn had to settle for third the pair were separated by just 2.2 seconds. On an excellent gravel debut with the Subaru Impreza and Pirelli tyres, Tommi collected five stage wins, four Championship points for Subaru and four for himself.
Tommi's team-mate Petter Solberg put in one of the best performances of the rally. He was the quickest driver, winning six of the stages outright, and ended the rally in fifth place -- an incredible recovery from 28th after SS3. He earned two drivers' points and three manufacturers' points for the 555 SWRT. The 27-year old Norwegian has scored drivers and manufacturers points on every round he has finished this year.
SS15 0935hrs Vavatsinia - Mandra Kamiou (19.00km)
Fastest Time: Rovanpera (Peugeot) 16:34.9
On the first test, drivers were faced with a hard and fast stage with blind crests and plenty of tight corners. Harri Rovanpera took the win and became the first driver to do so on Michelin tyres so far on the event. Richard Burns was second, his fourth place in danger from Rovanpera's charge, the gap between them was down to 9.1 seconds. Marcus Gronholm was third and Tommi Makinen fourth. Petter Solberg was sixth and moved up to seventh place overall, just 35 seconds behind Markko Martin and a points-winning finish. Manfred Stohl, tenth overall at the end of leg two, rolled on the stage and was forced to retire.
SS16 1018hrs Macheras - Agioi Vavatsinias (12.80km)
Fastest Time: Makinen (Subaru) 10:55.8
A great stage for the Subaru's but disaster for all four remaining Fords. Tommi Makinen claimed the victory, but Colin McRae and Markko Martin both rolled their cars and suffered power steering failure while Carlos Sainz and Janne Tuohino lost their power steering. All four managed to continue but the time lost had serious consequences for their top ten positions. McRae lost the overall lead to Marcus Gronholm and Markko Martin dropped from sixth to eighth. This helped Petter Solberg, who moved up to sixth place. Back on the stage, Harri Rovanpera was second and Richard Burns third, the two by now separated by just 7.7 seconds.
SS17 1056hrs Lageia - Kalavasos (9.14km)
Fastest Time: Makinen (Subaru) 7:41.0
The fast downhill, twisty stage may have been short, but like the one before it, it caused plenty of action and another win for 555 Subaru driver Tommi Makinen. Running the stage with no power steering, Colin McRae could only manage 13th. He stayed in second overall but now had a 50 second deficit to Marcus Gronholm. Gronholm held the lead after finishing third behind team-mate Richard Burns. Harri Rovanpera was fourth and Armin Schwarz fifth. Petter Solberg was ninth after he had a spin and a slow-speed roll on the last corner. The mistake cost him a place and he slipped to seventh, 12 seconds behind Armin Schwarz.
SS18 1346hrs Vavatsinia - Mandra Kamiou 2 (19.00km)
Fastest Time: Solberg (Subaru) 17:02.1
Vavatsinia was a repeat of the day's first stage but conditions had changed somewhat when increasingly heavy rain descended on the test. The stage proved to be one of the most significant of the rally. Petter Solberg was quickest and collected his sixth stage win of the rally. Gilles Panizzi finished second followed by Toni Gardemeister. However, it was all change in the top five. Colin McRae rolled his car again, this time losing around two and a half minutes and slipping out of contention to seventh overall. Colin's accident, and his own quick time through the stage, promoted Richard Burns to second while Tommi Makinen moved to the third provisional podium spot. Petter also benefited and moved up to fifth.
SS19 1429hrs Macheras - Agioi Vavatsinias 2 (12.80km)
Fastest Time: Makinen (Subaru) 11:16.7
Marcheras saw the second Subaru 1-2 of the event. Tommi Makinen was quickest while team-mate Petter Solberg finished just 0.4 seconds behind. Richard Burns was third but that was not quick enough to hold onto second and he moved back behind Tommi to third. Harri Rovanpera was fourth and Carlos Sainz fifth. Colin McRae remained in seventh place overall after finishing the stage sixth but he still had a chance to get a points finish as 4.1 seconds separated him from sixth placed Armin Schwarz.
SS20 1507hrs Lageia - Kalavasos 2 (9.14km)
Fastest Time: Burns (Peugeot) 7:37.3
The final stage of the day was a repeat of SS17 and with many of the top six places less than secure, there was high drama right up to the finish line. Marcus Gronholm was perhaps the driver with the biggest time advantage and he completed the stage safely to win by almost one minute. However, the battle between Makinen and Burns for second place went right to the wire. Makinen started with a slender 1.6 second advantage, but Richard was quickest on the stage - his first win of the event, and when Makinen had a half-spin near the finish, Burns squeezed past and claimed second place overall by just 2.2 seconds. Colin McRae was fourth and managed to salvage one point from the event by getting ahead of Armin Schwarz. Harri Rovanpera was second and fourth overall. Petter Solberg meanwhile finished sixth on the stage and fifth overall - an incredible achievement after being 28th after SS3.
Tommi Makinen: "It was a very close thing. We had a good battle with Richard and we so nearly got second place but we had a little spin and so we have to settle with third. Overall I am quite happy with this on our first gravel rally with the car. We have found a much better set up in the last two days. We've got lots of experience and more information, which will help us in the future. I think we are capable of winning on gravel. I'm sure we can make more improvements with our performance and we can be pretty confident going into the next couple of events."
Petter Solberg: "Things today continued to improve for us and I must say I am very very happy. I am a little bit upset about Friday when I lost the time but still, I can't complain because if you look at the amount of time we've made up it's been incredible. I can't really believe we've managed to finish where we have. It could have been a very good result, but there we are. We are looking forward now to the next event for sure."
Teams travel to Argentina for the sixth round of the 2002 FIA World Rally Championship, the only World Championship rally in the Americas. The stages on the edge of the Pampas can be super-fast and flat, while the mountain tests are twisty, sometimes rocky and take the cars and drivers to altitudes of up to 5000 feet. The event, which begins on 17 May, will be based at Villa Carlos Paz, and will comprise three legs with a total of 22 stages.