Portugal report

----------------------------------------------------------------------------- By Petri Karonen (C) 1995. May not be reproduced without author's permission. Permission is automatically granted for non-commercial use provided that the author is ...

----------------------------------------------------------------------------- By Petri Karonen (C) 1995. May not be reproduced without author's permission. Permission is automatically granted for non-commercial use provided that the author is notified of the reproduction. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

WRC Rally Portugal

After nightmarish first two rounds of WRC, Toyota Team Europe finally have found the problems in the engine management software which caused considerable power loss. In Portugal, the Celicas gave out more power and torque on a wider rev range, which resulted in a spectacular duel between Toyota's Juha Kankkunen and Subaru's Carlos Sainz for the victory of the rally.

Not appearing in Rally Portugal were Ralliart Mitsubishi and Tommi Makinen. Despite opposite claims after the team order scandal in Sweden, Mitsubishi was represented only by group N cars to prevent fines from the FIA, and the group A team stayed home in England. Apparently the Mitsubishi factory in Japan isn't adequately financing the team.

The rally, which in accordance with the new rules was driven this time entirely on gravel and also had been squeezed into the three-day time format, started with the domination of Juha Kankkunen. Carlos Sainz and Didier Auriol followed close behind all through the first day until on the penultimate stage of the day Kankkunen hit a rock and had to drive the last stages with damaged steering. The incident gave Sainz a 6 second lead over Kankkunen for the second day. Auriol was still third. The first major retirement came as Francois Delecour rolled his Escort on SS 3. He was able to go on for a while but had to call it a day on SS 5.

Next morning, Kankkunen started to catch up on Sainz stage by stage, and after SS 13 they were even. On the next stage Juha took the lead which he managed to extend to 22 secs by the end of the day. Didier Auriol tried furiously to catch the leading duo, but, in doing so, rolled gently and lost his third position to Colin McRae. 5th was Armin Schwarz with the third Toyota, 6th Ford's Bruno Thiry and 7th was the first non-works entry, the young Finn Marcus Gronholm in his first Rally Portugal. Gronholm's fine performance ended, however, on the last day as he crashed out on SS 27, just *after* the stage finish!

There were still 10 special stages on the last day so the race was by no means over. Especially as it started to rain. That gave Subaru an immediate advantage as their Pirelli tyres handled the slippery conditions much better than the Michelins used by Toyota. Sainz started to close in and four stages before the finish (SS 29) he passed Kankkunen, despite having himself some moments on the treacherously slippery roads. So, in the end Sainz was the winner with a margin of 11 secs. Juha Kankkunen wasn't extremely happy with the second place after such a battle but at least he showed that the new Toyota is capable of winning.

Colin McRae came home with a very respectable 3rd position as did Armin Schwarz who passed Didier Auriol on the last day. Auriol dropped to 5th after losing the second gear on SS 27. This result means that it's going to be very difficult for him to take the title again this year. Bruno Thiry finished 6th and 7th was the third Subaru driver Richard Burns. Group N was won by Portuguese Rui Madeira.

Results of Rally Portugal: 1. Carlos Sainz / Luis Moya Subaru 5:32:37 2. Juha Kankkunen / Nicky Grist Toyota -0:11 3. Colin McRae / Derek Ringer Subaru -3:14 4. Armin Schwarz / Klaus Wicha Toyota -4:59 5. Didier Auriol / Bernard Occelli Toyota -6:13 6. Bruno Thiry / Stephane Prevot Ford -8:46 7. Richard Burns / Robert Reid Subaru -14:21 8. Alessandro Fiorio / V. Brambilla Ford -25:37 9. Rui Madeira / Nuno Silva Mitsubishi (N) -30.59 10. Jorge Recalde / Martin Christie Mitsubishi (N) -34.45 ...

WRC standing, drivers: 1. Carlos Sainz Subaru 40 points 2. Juha Kankkunen Toyota 37 3. Tommi Makinen Mitsubishi 25 4. Kenneth Eriksson Mitsubishi 20 5. Bruno Thiry Ford 20 6. Didier Auriol Toyota 16 7. Francois Delecour Ford 15 8. Thomas Radstrom Toyota 12 Colin McRae Subaru 12 Armin Schwarz Toyota 12 ...

Next event: Tour de Corse, May 3-5.

-- =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= = Petri Karonen Email: pakar@tukki.jyu.fi = = World Rally Championship Infosystem: http://www.jyu.fi/~pakar/ = =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

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Series WRC
Drivers Tommi Makinen , Colin McRae , Carlos Sainz , Richard Burns , Didier Auriol , Marcus Gronholm , François Delecour , Armin Schwarz , Thomas Radstrom , Juha Kankkunen , Kenneth Eriksson , Robert Reid , Luis Moya , Nicky Grist , Alessandro Fiorio , Derek Ringer , Stéphane Prévot , Klaus Wicha , Rui Madeira , Nuno Silva