Marcus Gronholm (Peugeot) ended Sebastien Loeb's (Citroen) six-rally winning run by beating the Frenchman by 66.7sec. It was Gronholm's first victory since winning here 12 months ago and his fifth Rally Finland success. He survived an early ...
Marcus Gronholm (Peugeot) ended Sebastien Loeb's (Citroen) six-rally winning run by beating the Frenchman by 66.7sec. It was Gronholm's first victory since winning here 12 months ago and his fifth Rally Finland success. He survived an early morning scare when his team found an oil leak in a new power steering system and had to replace the old unit. Markko Martin (Peugeot) completed the podium places while Petter Solberg (Subaru) held off Hirvonen in their fight for fourth. Behind Gardemeister, Harri Rovanpera (Mitsubishi) and Francois Duval (Citroen) completed the points scorers in both championships. Chris Atkinson (Subaru) completed three retirements in three days when he stopped after the opening two stages with an engine problem.
Sebastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and their Citroen Xsara completed Round 10 of the 2005 World Championship as superb runners-up to Marcus Gronholm who secured the fifth win of his career on his home event. The Citroen crew's seventh consecutive podium finish, which equals the existing record established by Carlos Sainz, sees the pair extend its cushion over its closest rival in the Drivers' championship by one point.
Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena: "We gave him (Gronholm) a very close run and we come away with eight valuable points. In championship terms, this is an excellent result. but it's not a victory. Whenever a winning run like this comes to an end - even if you know it will stop one day - is bound to be a little bit sad. That said, I am very happy and proud to have been able to take the fight to Marcus over stages he has competed on every year since 1989. You have to know when to accept being beaten by an opponent of his calibre on his home ground. We put in a very good run. and he put in a flawless performance."
Francois Duval/Sven Smeets: "We didn't put a foot wrong on an event where it is so easy to make a mistake. We also achieved the objective we were set and we are looking forward to doing better still in Germany which stands out as a more straightforward rally for us."
After a difficult event for the Subaru team, Petter Solberg crossed the finish ramp of Rally Finland in fourth place today to collect five World Championship points. Locked in a close battle over the final four stages, Solberg carefully controlled his pace to remain ahead of local star Mikko Hirvonen, who was at maximum attack on his home rally. Chris Atkinson continued to gain experience of his car in the specialist conditions, although his day was cut short by engine damage sustained in an accident on Leg two.
Petter Solberg/Phil Mills: "It's a disappointing result, but after the bad landing on Friday and the split brake pipe yesterday I have to be happy with fourth. I tried to push so hard and we made a number of changes to improve the set-up yesterday and today. I was happier with how we finished today and after a quick break I'm going to be working hard, as I want so much to be back on top again, it's been too long now. We're going to do some very intensive testing before Germany and I know the car will have lots of new parts for the rally. You can be sure I'm not giving up and so I'm looking forward to getting out there again."
Chris Atkinson/Glen MacNeall: "I can take a lot of positives from this weekend. It's my first time in a World Rally Car in Finland and I managed to set times that were quicker than some of the Championship contenders and the experienced locals. This shows we have a good pace, but we now need to keep building our experience. The car and tyres were good all weekend, and we didn't change the set-up at all. We're learning all the time and we want to come back next year and be quicker and more consistent to get a good finish."
BP-Ford World Rally Team won two of the four speed tests on today's final leg of the Rally Finland as both drivers claimed points finishes in the FIA World Rally Championship. Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen finished fifth on the fastest rally of the season in their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car with team-mates Toni Gardemeister and Jakke Honkanen one place behind in sixth in a similar car. Each claimed a special stage victory this morning.
Toni Gardemeister/Jakke Honkanen: "I attacked hard on the first two stages and that was enough to get by Rovanpera. After that I was able to cruise because he was too far back to worry me. The roads were quite wet today and I had a tyre vibration on the second stage so I drove carefully to avoid any problems - fast but safe. I'm pleased to score points for Ford but disappointed from a personal view. Until yesterday evening, I was comfortable in fourth."
Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen: "It's a great result both for me and the team. The fight today with Petter was one of the best battles of my career. The team sent us Petter's split times during the stages so I knew exactly what I had to do, but unfortunately I couldn't quite manage it. It has been a fantastic opportunity to drive for the Ford team and the pace has been high all weekend. Before the rally started my target was to set times that were close to Marcus Gronholm and Sebastien Loeb and I achieved that."
Roman Kresta/Jan Mozny: "I just drove to finish this morning. It has been a hard weekend and I hope the next round in Germany will be easier than this. This was my first time in Finland and the pace of the event was just incredible. It is like Formula 1 in the forests and it really does take some getting used to. The amount of time in sixth gear is amazing."
Marcus Gronholm has taken a magnificent fifth victory on his native Rally Finland, which has boosted him to second in the drivers' championship. Markko Martin completes a great team result to end the rally in third place. Peugeot therefore retake the lead of the Manufacturers Championship, one point ahead of Citroen.
Marcus Gronholm/Timo Rautiainen: "It's been the perfect rally for us. We knew from the start that we could fight to win, but it was only last night, when we got a one-minute lead that we knew for sure that we were going to do it. It's not been an easy rally - we were always pushing hard and I was very worried about Timo. To avoid injuring his back any more I was definitely backing off over some of the bigger bumps, which cost us time. Although it's fantastic to win here, we still have to keep working hard to improve the car because Finland is not really typical of most events!"
Markko Martin/Michael Park: "I'm very pleased - not so much with third place but more with the fact that we have been in a genuinely competitive situation here in Finland. This is down to many things, but above all the adjustments to the suspension have helped me a lot. For the first time I felt really confident with the car, and if we keep working hard and going down the correct route I am sure that there will be more good results to follow this."
Janne Tuohino and Armin Schwarz brought the Skoda Fabia WRC 05 home in 10th and 11th places respectively on Rally Finland. Jani Paasonen's rally ended on SS5 when a rear wheel collapsed under the car following a heavy landing after a jump that caused problems for several crews.
Armin Schwarz/Klaus Wicha: "Today was not the time to push too hard and spoil a decent result. I knew that I couldn't improve my position so I decided to drive carefully and hope for a trouble-free day."
Jani Paasonen/Jani Vainikka: Retired
Janne Touhino/Mikko Markkula: "There was a lot of water on the stages this morning and so there was no point in taking stupid risks to try and catch Henning. I was quite surprised at the conditions. The car has been good all weekend and it seems we have found better reliability after our recent tests."
The Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05 crew of Harri Rovanpera and Risto Pietilainen finished Rally Finland, the tenth round of the FIA World Rally Championship, in seventh position, claiming points for themselves and the team in their home event.
Harri Rovanpera/Risto Pietilainen:"The car has been very reliable all weekend, working well and for this I am very happy. The tires have been good and our only problem today was a puncture in the final stage. Seventh position is right for the conditions and car we had on this event; it was not possible to do more. But, I know that when everything is working perfectly, we can fight hard for the top position."
Gigi Galli/Guido D'Amore: