Rally Finland Leg 3 (Sunday, 11 August 2002) The remaining 36 cars left Jyvaskyla Parc Ferme in bright sunshine this morning at 0720hrs for the final day of the Finland Rally. Comprising six stages, Leg 3 was the shortest of the event and...
Rally Finland Leg 3 (Sunday, 11 August 2002)
The remaining 36 cars left Jyvaskyla Parc Ferme in bright sunshine this morning at 0720hrs for the final day of the Finland Rally. Comprising six stages, Leg 3 was the shortest of the event and included another 94 competitive kilometres of wide, smooth gravel stages, located to the north-west of the town.
Peugeot's Marcus Gronholm and Richard Burns started the day in first and second place and, with a gap of 1m34s between them, the French team seemed confident that they could keep it that way to claim maximum points. They were not proved wrong. Driving with a cushion of more than a minute, Gronholm maintained his lead throughout and cruised through to claim victory and his third successive Finland victory. Although never able to threaten his team-mate's dominant position, Richard Burns clocked up another two stage wins and finished the event second. The result brought Peugeot it's fifth one-two of the season.
However, star of the day was 555 Subaru driver Petter Solberg who delivered a mature, high speed performance to finish on the podium. After jostling with the far more experienced Carlos Sainz for fourth position, the Norwegian capitalised on Colin McRae's shock retirement after SS20 and drove superbly to finish third overall and collect four Championship points - his best ever result in Finland. Carlos Sainz finished 4.2 seconds behind to take fourth with and Markko Martin a further 16.2 seconds in fifth. In another positive result for the Subaru team, Tommi Mäkinen drove consistently hard and finished sixth overall, claiming the final driver points scoring position.
SS17 0846hrs Keuruu 1 (11.80km)
Fastest time: Burns (Peugeot) 5:28.2
Following yesterday's problems, Richard Burns was straight on the attack this morning and topped the times to finish quickest in his Peugeot 206WRC. However, hot on his heels was Ford's Markko Martin, who was second, followed by Marcus Gronholm in third. Just half a second separated the top three and despite Richard clinching the win he remained 1m3secs behind team-mate Marcus overall. No problems for Subaru's Petter Solberg or team-mate Tommi Mäkinen. The Subaru stars completed the stage in sixth and eighth place respectively. A slow start for Colin McRae however - he finished eleventh but held on to third place overall. After SS17, the crews drove directly to the start of the SS18, 8.9km away.
SS18 0914hrs Jukojarvi 1 (22.71km)
Fastest time: Burns (Peugeot) and Sainz (Ford) 11:11.6
This time Ford's Colin McRae was fastest followed by Richard Burns who was joint second with Ford driver Carlos Sainz. Although Burns finished over five seconds ahead of team-mate Gronholm, who was sixth, at the end of SS18 the Brit still needed to find significantly more time to enable him to pose a serious threat to the overall lead and he remained more than 1m30secs adrift. Solberg was fourth for Subaru ahead of old team-mate Markko Martin in fifth. After SS18, and a 10 second jump-start time penalty for Sainz, Solberg was just 2.2 seconds behind the Spaniard - fifth in the overall standings. Bad luck for Mitsubishi's Alister McRae - the Scot's rally ended when he was forced to retire with damaged rear suspension leaving Jani Paasonen as the only remaining Mitsubishi driver in the event. Tommi Mäkinen continued his consistent run in his Subaru Impreza and finished eighth.
SS19 0957hrs Kruununpera (12.67km)
Fastest time: Solberg (Subaru) 6:06.4
Responding to Sainz's dash on the previous test, 555 Subaru driver Petter Solberg charged through SS19, the first run through the short Kruununpera course, to clinch his first win of the event. The young Norwegian put in a blistering time to finish 0.7 seconds ahead of second placed Markko Martin and 2 seconds clear of third placed Colin McRae. The Peugeots of Gronholm and Burns were over 2 seconds behind Solberg in fourth and fifth respectively. Solberg's surge moved him up to fourth on the overall leader board, 1.5 seconds ahead of Sainz. After SS19 crews returned to the Paviljonki complex for the Leg's second service.
SS20 1245hrs Keuruu 2 (11.80km)
Fastest time: Martin (Ford) 5:20.9
High drama for Colin McRae on SS20. The Scot completed the course with the rear of his Ford Focus WRC on fire, caused by an oil leak from a damaged differential unit. Both McRae and co-driver Grist were uninjured but the car was too badly damaged for them to continue. Having been in third place overall, McRae's misfortune overhauled the leaderboard and shunted Subaru's Petter Solberg up the standings to third and a potential podium finish. Meanwhile, in what was a bitter-sweet leg for the Ford team, Markko Martin drove fastest through the stage and finished one second ahead of Burns to secure his first win of the event. Sainz, who must have cursed his earlier jump-start, finished fourth behind Solberg and had a 2.8 second deficit to make up to the Norwegian at the end of the stage. Mäkinen finished ninth and moved to sixth overall.
SS21 1313hrs Jukojarvi 2 (22.71km)
Fastest time: Martin (Ford) 11:02.4
More drama in SS21, the penultimate stage of the rally, this time for Citroen's Thomas Radstrom. The Swede crashed his Citroen out of the rally 8km from the start line. Better news for Ford as its young driver Markko Martin capitalised on the Peugeot's slower pace to claim his second stage win of the day. Just behind was Petter Solberg who charged through to finish joint second with Burns. The Norwegian's performance saw him increase his lead over Ford driver Sainz to more than five seconds and with just one stage remaining he was looking good for a podium finish. Tommi Mäkinen finished sixth and remained in the same point-scoring position overall.
SS22 1406hrs Kruununpera 2 (12.67km)
Fastest time: Burns (Peugeot) and Gronholm (Peugeot) 6:02.2
Marcus Gronholm and Richard Burns cruised through the final stage of the rally to claim not only the final stage win, but also overall first and second place. Another consistent performance from Markko Martin netted him third whilst team-mate Sainz was fourth quickest through the 12.67km stage. The Spaniard finished one place ahead of Solberg, but his 1.4 sec lead was not enough to snatch third place back from the young Norwegian who took the final podium position. Team-mate Mäkinen was ninth and consolidated his sixth position overall to collect a championship point.
Petter Solberg:. "It's a very, very good result! I'm very happy, my feeling is that on this rally third place is like a victory! I pushed hard all day and had the right tyre choice, everything worked perfectly but I knew that it would be a tough fight with Carlos and it was certainly close. I can't tell you how nervous I was feeling at the start line on the last stage. The guys in the team have done an excellent job, everyone has worked flat out for this".
Tommi Mäkinen: "It's been a difficult rally for me and the result is disappointing. There's something missing somewhere, we made some progress during the rally here, but we'll be concentrating on making more improvements before New Zealand."
David Lapworth, 555 Subaru Team Principal: "I think our result in this rally has shown that we have a strong car, engine and tyres. We had a close battle with the Fords as we'd expected and it's a great result for Petter to get onto the podium and to beat Carlos fair and square. Tommi's had a disappointing rally, we've identified a few areas where we can improve the performance and we've learnt some lessons for New Zealand"
Round 10 of the 2002 World Rally Championship starts in two weeks time, when teams travel to Germany, for the eagerly anticipated Rally Deutschland. It will be the first time that a WRC event has ever been held in the country. The all-asphalt event will start from the city of Trier on the 23 August 2002.