GrÃ¶nholm steals the show & puts Peugeot-Michelin on top A masterful performance from Marcus GrÃ¶nholm has seen the reigning World Champion collect his second Rally Australia win in as many years. His emphatic victory also sees Peugeot-Michelin...
Grönholm steals the show & puts Peugeot-Michelin on top
A masterful performance from Marcus Grönholm has seen the reigning World Champion collect his second Rally Australia win in as many years. His emphatic victory also sees Peugeot-Michelin move to the top of the Manufacturers' points table with only Rally GB to go. In the ultimate dash for the Drivers' title, there are now only two points in it between McRae (Ford), Mäkinen (Mitsubishi-Michelin) and Burns (Subaru), a situation that promises a thrilling finale when the WRC moves to South Wales in just over two weeks time!
Practically from the word go, there was never any doubt about who was the boss of the 2001 Rally Australia. Marcus Grönholm (Peugeot-Michelin) emerged from Day 1 with a small advantage at the top of the overnight leaderboard before taking charge for good with an assertive run of quickest stage times on the following leg. A lead of over half-a-minute going into Sunday's action meant that the Finn was able to control comfortably from in front to secure his second consecutive success in Australia, his second of the season after his convincing victory on home ground in Finland.
Although Grönholm is no longer in the running to retain the Drivers' crown he won with the 206 WRC- Michelin twelve months ago, his domination of the penultimate round has put the French team on top of the provisional Manufacturers' championship standings for the first time this year. It means that Peugeot, who looked a long way from being realistic title contenders as recently as August, now enjoy a slight edge over rivals Ford as the two firms prepare for the final showdown on Rally GB (November 22- 25).
With all that will also be at stake in the Drivers' series in which today's result leaves Colin McRae (Ford), Tommi Mäkinen (Mitsubishi-Michelin) and Richard Burns (Subaru) split by a mere two points (!) the British round has all the makings of being yet another spectacular thriller.
Grönholm's stranglehold on this weekend's competition was such that Burns, who was outdistanced by the Finn by an average of 3/10ths of a second per kilometer over the decisive second day, was happy in the end to settle for 2nd place. The result leaves him in a strong position in the title hunt as he prepares for Rally GB, an event he has won for the last three years.
In addition to the points harvested by its resident World Champion, Peugeot-Michelin was also delighted to see Didier Auriol join Grönholm on the podium, the Frenchman's third top-three finish in three events. The team's joy was compounded by the performance of Harri Rovanperä who maturely shrugged off last day pressure from Colin McRae to collect a further four points for the French make and make it no fewer than three 206 WRCs in the final top four!
Equal at the top of the provisional Drivers' championship standings prior to the trip to Western Australia, McRae and Tommi Mäkinen (Mitsubishi-Michelin) picked up two and one point respectively. The Scot was clearly hampered by an unfavourable road position on Day 2, a self-inflicted handicap inasmuch he failed to show up at the meeting arranged to allow drivers to choose their own stage start order for the second leg. Although the disadvantage only saw him drop from 4th to 5th place, the time squandered made it practically impossible for him to catch and pass Rovanperä on Leg 3.
Meanwhile, Tommi Mäkinen overcame severe chest pains (the sequel to his accident on the recent Tour of Corsica) coupled with the fact he was running with an unfamiliar co-driver, Timo Hantunen to salvage sixth place and a single championship point. Making its loose surface debut in Australia, the latest evolution Lancer WRC progressed considerably in terms of balance and overall performance over the three days and the quadruple World Champion gave a glimpse of the new car's potential with some strong times on the last day.
Finally, local hero Ed Ordynski won Group N with his Ralliart Australia-entered Mitsubishi-Michelin. On his way to taking the showroom trophy, the Adelaide-based driver beat the identical cars of the category's world stars, including 2001 Group N champion Gabriel Pozzo from Argentina as well as outgoing champ, Manfred Stohl from Austria.
Michelin tyres on top on Rally Australia's marbles!
EVOLUTION... The latest evolutions of Michelin's Z and ZE16 patterns that helped Marcus Grönholm clinch last year's Rally Australia for Peugeot-Michelin (in spite of a seemingly unfavourable stage start position on the final day) were successful again this weekend.
0.3s PER KM... By the time the principal victory contenders tackled this weekend's stages, even though much of the loose top surface had been swept aside by earlier cars, there were still plenty of the event's celebrated marbles to clear. Even so, that didn't stop the Finn pulling a full 3/10ths of a second per kilometer clear of his closest chaser (running just one car before him) on the decisive second day.
2001 SCORE... The result of the 2001 Rally Australia leaves both the Manufacturers' and Drivers' championship situations very open. In both title chases, Michelin's partners are in a position to add to Michelin's present score of 30 world rallying titles since 1973, a record. Meanwhile, Marcus Grönholm and Peugeot today extended Michelin's 2001 score to 9 wins from the 13 WRC rounds organized so far.
CONDITIONS... Warm sunshine made welcome appearances on Days 1 and 3, with ground temperatures peaking as high as 35°C. Although the rain that fell briefly on the second leg tended to dampen down the loose dust on Saturday afternoon's stages, it had little effect on the mobility of the event's infamous marble-like stones which meant that the mission of the tyres was still to cut through this unstable top-surface in order to get the rubber down to the hard base underneath for optimised grip and traction.
2001 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP POSITIONS AFTER 13 ROUNDS <pre>
DRIVERS Total MC S P E RA CY GR EAK FIN NZ I F AUS GB Colin McRae (GB) 42 0 0 0 0 10 10 10 0 4 6 0 0 2 - Tommi Mäkinen (FIN) 41 10 0 10 4 3 0 3 10 0 0 0 0 1 - Richard Burns (GB) 40 0 0 3 0 6 6 0 0 6 10 0 3 6 - Carlos Sainz (E) 33 6 4 6 2 4 4 0 0 1 3 3 0 0 - Harri Rovanpera (FIN) 30 - 10 0 - 0 0 4 6 3 4 0 0 3 - Marcus Grönholm (FIN) 26 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 10 2 0 0 10 - Didier Auriol (F) 23 0 0 0 10 0 0 0 0 0 1 4 4 4 - Gilles Panizzi (F) 22 0 - 0 6 - - 0 - 0 - 10 6 0 -
MANUFACTURERS Total MC S P E RA CY GR EAK FIN NZ I F AUS GB Peugeot-Michelin 90 0 0 4 16 0 0 0 6 13 5 16 16 14 - Ford 86 6 8 6 2 14 14 10 0 6 10 7 0 3 - Mitsubishi-Michelin 69 13 10 10 7 4 3 6 13 0 0 1 0 2 - Subaru 62 0 4 3 1 8 6 6 0 7 11 2 7 7 - Skoda-Michelin 15 5 1 0 0 0 1 4 4 0 - 0 0 0 - Hyundai-Michelin 13 2 3 3 0 0 2 0 - 0 0 0 13 0 -
Next round: Great Britain (22-25/11/2001)