Peugeot sweeps to victory in Finland. The Peugeot team cruised to their fifth one-two finish of the season today, with Marcus Gronholm winning his home rally from team mate Richard Burns. The victory extends Marcus's comfortable lead in the ...
Peugeot sweeps to victory in Finland.
The Peugeot team cruised to their fifth one-two finish of the season today, with Marcus Gronholm winning his home rally from team mate Richard Burns.
The victory extends Marcus's comfortable lead in the World Championship. His total is now 47 points, 17 more than Ford's Colin McRae in second. Richard also moves up to fourth overall in the championship, on a total of 25 points.
Marcus was mesmerising over the flat-out crests that characterise the Rally Finland. Having established a strong lead yesterday, he said that today was all about maintaining his advantage.
"Everything went to plan - we had no real problems at all," he said. "It was a good win, but even more vital for the championship. The Rally Finland is always fun to drive but it's never easy. My team mates were both very quick here as well which is no surprise to me as I know just how good they are. It was quite difficult to know which speed to drive at. Obviously there was no point in taking any risks, but I also needed a good pace to maintain my concentration."
Marcus's 206 WRC was a hundred percent reliable throughout the rally, but a set-up change half-way through the second day improved his confidence considerably. In total he set 6 fastest stage times, and his winning margin was one minute and 27 seconds.
Richard led the rally on the opening day and for the first stage of day two - the only man to be consistently faster than the Finns on home territory in recent memory. But a heavy landing after a jump on stage 12 robbed him of turbo boost and he tumbled to third.
A strong and determined drive saw him complete the rally in second place, having set 10 fastest times.
"I wanted to do the best job I could," he said. "I'm very happy to finish on the podium as these are valuable points. But I feel very disappointed that the problem yesterday cost me about minute and a half and the lead. After that, I concentrated on making sure I finished second, and bringing Peugeot the best possible result. It's never easy in that situation, as when you don't drive these cars flat-out they become quite tricky to handle."
The third works 206, driven by Harri Rovanpera, retired from the lead yesterday with suspension damage. The Finn ran over some small rocks on the longest stage of the rally, which caused a puncture. The flailing rubber eventually damaged the suspension so badly that Harri was unable to continue.
"I'm really, really disappointed as I was sure it was possible to get a top result," he said. "The rocks were no bigger than most rocks on this rally - we were just very unlucky."
Timo Salonen, who was World Champion in 1985 with Peugeot, finished 14th in his privateer 206 WRC. The legendary Finn enjoyed a one-off outing after an 11-year absence.
"I had a lot of fun and drove as fast as an old man can!" said the 50-year-old. "It's amazing to see for myself the differences between the modern cars and the cars I used to drive."
Total Team Peugeot Director Corrado Provera commented: "Our hearts are filled with great joy. This is a victory full of meaning: our fifth one-two of the season. It means that when we do win, it's always with a minimum of one car! Marcus has again been exceptional and Richard has done a fantastic job - he could have won the rally. The only person missing is Harri and for that I am very sorry. I would like to congratulate Sebastian Lindholm for an excellent seventh place, and also Juuso Pykalisto for some fantastic times on the first day. Finally, I am glad we were able to be a part of Timo Salonen's 50th birthday celebrations - he has done very well."
The World Championship switches back to asphalt for the next round, the Rallye Deutschland based in Trier from August 23-25. Making its debut on the World Championship, this promises to be a fascinating event as it is very different in character to all the other sealed-surface rallies.