WRC

Rally Australia: Peugeot preview

The Peugeot 307 WRC and its Drivers in Attack Mode on The Loose The final showdown of the 2004 World Championship, Rally Australia, has regularly been happy hunting ground for Peugeot Sport which enjoyed a run of three consecutive wins in Perth...

The Peugeot 307 WRC and its Drivers in Attack Mode on The Loose

The final showdown of the 2004 World Championship, Rally Australia, has regularly been happy hunting ground for Peugeot Sport which enjoyed a run of three consecutive wins in Perth in 2000, 2001 and 2002. This year again, the 307 WRC promises to be in its element over the event's fast, selective stages, and Marcus Grönholm and Harri Rovanperä have every intention of exploiting the car's strengths to the full to conclude the season on a high note.

Ever since the creation of the World Rally Championship, the final showdown of the season has tended to take place in the dark, cold, muddy forests of Great Britain. This year, however, the last encounter of what has been a tough calendar of sixteen fixtures will have the sunny southern hemisphere as backdrop. Rally Australia has been part of the World Championship since 1989 and Peugeot has met with considerable success in this event in the last five years. The 206 WRC first competed here in 1999 but 2004 will be the 307 WRC's first attempt at this popular, if challenging rally.

The terrain is one of the most specific of the championship. The stages tend to be relatively short and, above all, their surface features a top-coating of round, marble-like stones. Grip is at a premium for the first cars through, although it consequently tends to improve with each passing car. The other particularity of this event is its high average speeds. That, plus the fact the stages are for the most part lined with stout, close up trees, puts the nature of the challenge faced in Australia by Marcus and Harri truly into perspective...

Since the beginning of 2004, the Peugeot 307 WRC has proved especially competitive on the loose in what has been its maiden season of world class rallying. Marcus Grönholm and Harri Rovanperä have frequently found themselves in the lead but victory has very often eluded them. Grönholm secured the 307's first win in Finland and it is expected that the quick stages of Australia, where a good top speed is a valuable asset, will be particularly suited to the French team's current machine which boasts a large number of fastest stage times on dirt.

After bagging 5th place on his first visit to Australia with Peugeot, Marcus Grönholm claimed a hat-trick of wins here in 2000, 2001 and 2002 but retired following an off on last year's event. This is clearly a rally the two-times World Champion enjoys: "It's one of my favourites and I have often gone very well here. After finishing in 2nd place in Spain, where I wasn't expecting such a good result on what is a very specific rally, I would really like to score a fourth win in Australia. I am fired up at the idea of giving my team a chance to end the year with a top finish."

Harri Rovanperä also has good knowledge of Rally Australia after finishing 4th in 2001 and 2nd in Peugeot's resounding one-two in 2002: "Like Marcus, I enjoy this rally, not only because of its challenging stages but also because of its pleasant atmosphere and setting. This year's event takes place at a later date which means it should be warmer and drier, so the conditions are likely to be quite different. The stages of the last day are the main difficulty when you have to contend with very fast roads, jumps, trees and dust... It's excellent training for a driver. This rally will also be the last outing of my fourth year with Peugeot so I am keen to mark that with a top result. I would so much like that for everyone in the team."

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Series WRC
Drivers Harri Rovanpera , Marcus Gronholm