Peugeot claims Australian glory. Peugeot 206 WRC driver Marcus GrÃ¶nholm has scored his fifth win in this year's FIA World Rally Championship by scoring a dominant victory on the 13th round of the series, the Rally Australia, which finished ...
Peugeot claims Australian glory.
Peugeot 206 WRC driver Marcus Grönholm has scored his fifth win in this year's FIA World Rally Championship by scoring a dominant victory on the 13th round of the series, the Rally Australia, which finished in Perth this afternoon. And his team-mate Harri Rovanperä charged into second place in the closing stages to give the French marque yet another one-two finish and maximum score in the manufacturers' championship.
Grönholm and his navigator Timo Rautainen had led the event since its third special stage on Friday morning, and they entered today's four test - based in the Sotico forest complex (formerly known as Bunnings) - with a commanding lead of almost 50 seconds. The 2000 and 2002 world champions* duly cruised through the closing few kilometres, keeping their 206 WRC clear of the worst rocks and ditches as they celebrated Rally Australia success for the third year in succession.
Marcus said: "This was one of the easiest wins this year in many ways but at the same time, it was hard to keep concentration. I had a good lead from the end of the first day and it would have been easy to make a mistake. Today we just tried to keep the others at a safe distance and that was quite straightforward. I'm obviously very pleased and I think I can take the same motivation and confidence into the final round in Britain."
Peugeot's other remaining works entry, Harri Rovanperä, started this morning in third. But he repeated his strong pace of yesterday, setting fastest time on the day's opening test and then eclipsing everyone with a stunning scratch in the following stage. That was good enough to move the Finn ahead of Petter Solberg and into second overall, and he consolidated that place by the finish. Rovanperä's podium finish was a fine send-off for his stand-in navigator Voitto Silander, since his regular co-driver Risto Pietilainen will make his return from injury on the next event.
Harri said: "It was full, full, full attack today. I took some more risks and the times were really good - I felt I had good grip from my Michelin tyres and the road conditions really seemed to work for the 206. I'm happy to get another podium finish and I'm looking forward to the next round in Wales, because I usually go well there too."
Peugeot Total Team Director Corrado Provera said: "We wanted to maintain our level after winning the titles* and we have done that. We will never tire of winning! The Peugeot brand sells well here in Australia and so the image has to be maintained and promoted, and this will help. Marcus was as fantastic as ever and as for Harri, I think he proved again that he can set some very fast times as well. We are feeling a special type of joy this afternoon."
The FIA World Rally Championship makes the final stop on its 14-round tour of the globe in the slippery forests of south Wales, when the crews tackle the Rally of Great Britain on November 14-17. Grönholm won the event last year, and the Peugeot team will be aiming to cap its ultra-successful season with yet another victory this time.