WRC

Rally Australia: Peugeot preview

Peugeot out to do honour to its 2002 World titles. The dream of the whole team is now reality! Thanks to their outstanding results since the beginning of the season, Peugeot and Marcus Grönholm made mathematically sure of both the...

Peugeot out to do honour to its 2002 World titles.

The dream of the whole team is now reality! Thanks to their outstanding results since the beginning of the season, Peugeot and Marcus Grönholm made mathematically sure of both the Manufacturers' and Drivers' world titles two weeks ago in New Zealand, the twelfth of this year's fourteen-round championship. This season's title is Peugeot's third consecutive crown1, while Marcus Grönholm has taken his score to two world titles following his success with the 206 in 2000. The French team goes to Australia for the penultimate round of the season determined to celebrate its two new titles in style.

This objective is sure to suit the three drivers officially nominated to drive the Peugeot 206 WRC in Perth, namely Marcus Grönholm, winner of the southern hemisphere event in 2000 and 2001, Richard Burns, winner in 1999, and Harri Rovanperä, fourth in 2001. Gilles Panizzi will also be present in a fourth 206 WRC. The most recent of Peugeot's three consecutive Manufacturers' titles1 reflects the French team's ability to profit from the experience it has accumulated since its return to the rallying's premier series. For while its 2000 and 2001 crowns were both 'last minute' affairs, this year saw Peugeot Sport take command very early in the season, thereby avoiding another nerve-racking finish to the year. With two rounds still to go, Peugeot's 2002 record is already impressive: from the twelve events organised so far, the 206 WRC has collected no fewer than eight one-two finishes2, a new record. Its other results include a valuable 2nd place on the Acropolis Rally, where the 2002 Evolution 206 WRC made its maiden outing, a podium on the highly specific terrain of the Safari Rally, and 4th place on the Monte Carlo, an event that has yet to smile on the 206. The current season has produced just one blank: Argentina, where Grönholm and Burns were excluded from the results after the finish. Centred on the city Perth, Rally Australia is a spectacular but difficult sprint. "All the stages are excellent, but they are frequently made tricky by the omnipresence of trees that can make you pay a high price if ever you stray off the ideal line. Dust can also be a big problem," comments Harri Rovanperä who finished 4th in Australia last year and whose other results here are a 6th place in 1999 and victory in the 2-litre category in 1997. With one victory in Perth to his name in 1999, plus second-place finishes in 2000 and 2001 behind Marcus Grönholm, Richard Burns enjoys a strong record on this event. Unlucky hero on the recent Rally New Zealand, where he retired following an 'off' while leading, the 2001 World Champion will be looking to profit from this weekend's fresh chance to score his first win at the wheel of a Peugeot. Unbeaten in Australia since 2000, Marcus Grönholm is in a relaxed frame of mind as he bids to make it three-in-a-row this time round. "The fact that both championships have already been decided1 will modify my approach to the next two events since I will have no obligation to score points. Obviously, that takes the pressure off. Having said that, the will to win is still there, although I won't be the only driver looking for victory in Australia. Richard, for one, will be out to score his first win for Peugeot." "Last year's Rally Australia was an extremely positive weekend for us. Everyone in the team worked in perfect harmony and that produced an excellent result, our three nominated cars finishing in first, third and fourth positions, while Gilles Panizzi added a ninth place to our score," recalls Peugeot Sport Director Corrado Provera. "This year, we can rely on our current driver line-up to continue flying the colours of the company that employs us high and proud."

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Richard Burns , Harri Rovanpera , Gilles Panizzi , Marcus Gronholm , Corrado Provera