PEUGEOT LOOKING TO BOW OUT ON A HIGH NOTE Rally Australia, the sixteenth and final round of 2005 World Rally Championship, will be the final outing for the factory-run 307WRC before Peugeot moves on to new challenges in motor sport from ...
PEUGEOT LOOKING TO BOW OUT ON A HIGH NOTE
Rally Australia, the sixteenth and final round of 2005 World Rally Championship, will be the final outing for the factory-run 307WRC before Peugeot moves on to new challenges in motor sport from 2006. After a fiercely fought but difficult 2005 season, the French team intends to throw all its strength into this final showdown in a bid to end its WRC adventure as it started it, with a top result.
The two 307WRCs will be driven by Marcus Gronholm, three-times winner of the Perth-based event, and by the young Swede Daniel Carlsson.
When these two drivers line up for the start of the team's final WRC rally in Australia, it will clearly be a very emotional moment for Peugeot Sport. This fast and highly selective rally is amongst those on which the French squad has enjoyed the most success in recent years, with Marcus Gronholm winning outright three years on the trot in 2000, 2001 and 2002. This time round, the Finn will be looking to take that figure to four wins in order to add a last victory to the team's highly enviable record.
Rally Australia has counted towards the World Rally Championship since 1988 and Peugeot has taken part in the last six years with remarkable success. The 206 WRC competed here for the first time in 1999, while the 307WRC's maiden visit was in 2004.
The terrain is one of the most specific of the calendar. The gravel stages, which are generally relatively short, feature a top coating of small, marble-like stones. Grip is initially at a premium but then tends to improve with each passing car. The other particularity of this event is the high speeds the drivers reach and the stout trees which line the stages in many places.
The 307WRC has won two rounds so far this year -- Finland and Japan -- and spent much of the season challenging for the Manufacturers' title, finally bowing down to Citroen after the season's penultimate contest in Spain. However, with a total of 135 points to its name compared with Ford's score of 100 points, Peugeot is certain of finishing second in this year's standings. Meanwhile, in the Drivers' championship, Australia promises to see an exceptionally close fight between Marcus Gronholm and Petter Solberg for runners-up honours. Going into the final round, the two drivers are equal on points!
Marcus Gronholm has always been strong in Australia which is one of his favourite rallies and it is easy to imagine how determined he will be to conclude his formidable association with Peugeot in style.
The second factory 307 WRC, which was initially intended for Markko Martin, will be driven by Daniel Carlsson who stood in for the Estonian in Japan where he finished 8th overall. The young Swede finished 6th earlier in the year when he drove the Peugeot 307 WRC on his home event, the Swedish Rally.