Originally-From: firstname.lastname@example.org Hyundai pair battle through to Finland finish. Hyundai Castrol World Rally Team crews Freddy Loix/Sven Smeets and Armin Schwarz/Manfred Hiemer completed a difficult Rally Finland reaching the finish ramp in...
Hyundai pair battle through to Finland finish.
Hyundai Castrol World Rally Team crews Freddy Loix/Sven Smeets and Armin Schwarz/Manfred Hiemer completed a difficult Rally Finland reaching the finish ramp in ninth and 13th positions respectively.
On an event where pure speed, accuracy and guts pays dividends, the Peugeots shone the brightest and were a league ahead of all other competitors finishing almost one and a half minutes ahead of their nearest rival. Rally Finland is famous for its breathtaking jumps amongst stunning sun-drenched, narrow forest-lined roads and speeds of up to 210kph pose a huge challenge. It truly is the grand prix of rallies and the price to pay for even the smallest mistake is high.
Hyundai's Belgian crew Freddy Loix and Sven Smeets started the rally well running trouble-free on the opening day and setting competitive stage times to finish the leg in ninth. Handling problems on leg two however hindered their progress and a better run on leg three was not enough to pull them back up the leaderboard into the points.
"Obviously I'm disappointed not to take points but even discounting the problems we had on leg two, it was always going to be difficult here. The teams in front of us -- Peugeot, Ford and Subaru -- are there because on this rally their top-end power gives them a big advantage, adding to their years of experience. But the Accent has been improving with every rally and with every day," explained 31-year-old Loix. "I have never done Germany before but I saw some of the roads during testing. I think it's going to be difficult for everyone but perhaps I'll have to let Armin lead the way."
Team-mates Armin Schwarz and Manfred Hiemer experienced a difficult start to the rally after a jump start at the Killeri superspecial gave the pair a 10 second penalty dropping them to 64th position overall. A faulty spark plug caused their engine to misfire in the opening stages of leg one proper and prevented the crew from setting competitive times. The car ran smoothly on leg two permitting the Germans to steadily work their way up the leaderboard to 15th and continued well on the final day. Running first on the road on leg three however made life very difficult as Schwarz was forced to clear the route for the rest of the field.
"To get through this rally without any damage and to stay on the road is an achievement. Yesterday was encouraging but being first on the road today made it hard and when you're that close to the end of the rally, staying safe is very important," commented Schwarz. "Thinking about the next rally, I heard it is raining in Germany so I hope it keeps going for two weeks and then everyone will get a very big surprise!"
Finnish legend and three-time Finland winner Juha Kankkunen and co-driver Juha Repo retired at the beginning of leg two after a mistake caused the Accent WRC" to roll forcing their retirement. "There is nobody else who knows those roads as well as Juha," commented Juha Repo. "We decided to go as hard as we could -- after setting a good time at the end of leg one we knew the car was good enough to go well. Juha likes those stages a lot and we made the decision to go for maximum attack. Unfortunately we went wide and we rolled and it's a real pity, especially as it's our home event."
News from our Rivals
The final leg of the rally saw the Ford of Colin McRae catch fire at the end of stage 20 ending his rally while lying in third position. His brother Alister McRae (Mitsubishi) saw his rally come to an end after the suspension collapsed in his recently launched Lancer WRC2 in special stage 18. Thomas Radstrom (Citroen) also saw his rally terminated when he went off the road in the penultimate stage of the event. At the head of the field, the Peugeots of Marcus Gronholm and Richard Burns held position to finish 1-2 with Solberg (Subaru) a distant 1.22 minutes behind in third. Carlos Sainz (Ford) who battled with team-mate McRae and Solberg during legs two and three resigned himself to fourth position, closely followed by younger team-mate Markko Martin in fifth.
The tenth round of the 2002 FIA World Rally Championship heads to Trier in Germany for the inaugural running of Rallye Deutschland as part of the World Rally Championship from 23-25 August.