SÃ©bastien Loeb (Citroen) took no risks through the final day to be the meat in BP-Ford's sandwich in second. Henning Solberg (Peugeot) equalled his career-best result in fourth and, despite a 20 second time penalty imposed overnight, Gigi Galli...
Sébastien Loeb (Citroen) took no risks through the final day to be the meat in BP-Ford's sandwich in second. Henning Solberg (Peugeot) equalled his career-best result in fourth and, despite a 20 second time penalty imposed overnight, Gigi Galli (Peugeot) held off Janne Tuohino (Citroen) for fifth. The final driver points went to Jussi Välimäki (Citroen) and Jan Kopecky (Skoda). There were no major retirements today.
1. Kronos Total Citroen
After a trouble-free final leg, Sébastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and their Citroen Xsara WRC took an excellent second place on the aweinspiring Rally Finland, just as they did last year. The reigning two time World Champions have therefore continued a remarkable unbroken series. For the 10th time in 10 rallies this year, the Kronos Total Citroen team leaders have been on either the top or the middle step of the podium.
Sebastien Loeb: « I won't pretend that I didn't want to win this rally, but that plan didn't quite work out. While there's no shame in giving best to Marcus Grönholm on his home territory, I still feel a bit disappointed. What I will remember about this event is the fact that my Xsara has taken yet another step forward, thanks to all the hard work from Citroen Sport's development team. The car's stability has got even better, and its handling is more precise now. It really gave me a lot of confidence. I don't think we have ever been so close to Marcus here : thanks to a big attack and a trouble-free run we were able to beat him for the first time on the Ouninpohja stage. So now we know it's possible - and we know as well just how much effort we need to put in to get there. »
Daniel Sordo: Retired - Accident
2. OMV-Peugeot Norway
The OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team finished the "Neste Oil Rally Finland" with both cars among the top-10. The only registered works team of the FIA World Rally Championship to match this feat was Ford. Thus Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud in fourth overall place and Manfred Stohl/Ilka Minor in ninth place won nine points for the manufacture WRC. A result that Bozian-Racing can be proud of.
Manfred Stohl/Ilka Minor: "If somebody had told me prior to the rally that I would reach a top-10-place, I would have been overjoyed. But now I'm a little bit sad about ninth place. More would have been possible. But the damage on the first day (broken transverse control arm) had me thrown too far back. Fortunately we were able to gather valuable manufacture points which somewhat makes up for one or more lost driver points"
Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud: "Finally the luck we had been missing during the first half of the season was on our side. I have nothing to reproach myself for. The three works teams in front of us can't be beaten under such conditions. Now we've moved up in the WRC again. And the next two rallies I will participate in, Cyprus and Turkey, are to my liking. I reckon that I'll achieve a good result there. But right now I'm just happy about this success."
BP-Ford World Rally Team drivers Marcus Grönholm and Timo Rautiainen won Rally Finland today after dominating the fastest rally of the year in their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car. It was the team's fourth victory of the FIA World Rally Championship season, already making this Ford's most successful campaign since 1993 with six rounds still remaining. The victory was Grönholm's sixth in seven years here and his triumph marked Finland's 50th win in the rally's 56-year history. Team-mate Mikko Hirvonen delighted his home town fans by bringing a similar BP Ultimate and Castrol-branded Focus RS to the finish in Jyväskylä in third.
Marcus Grönholm/Timo Rautiainen: "When I was a young driver in the 1990s, I could never have believed that I would win this rally six times. I've not had a single problem all weekend and victory here is really important to me. I had a good fight with Loeb but once he hit a rock and dropped time yesterday, I had a comfortable lead and could pace myself to the finish. My target is to win every rally now. I know I can win more rallies this season. With the Focus RS, I have the car to do it, so why not?"
Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen: "It's hard to describe my feelings. I have watched this rally since I was a kid, dreaming of a podium and now I have achieved it. It has been clear since yesterday that I could take a podium and it's a great personal achievement. I was happy with my speed but I need more experience of these roads to be able to fight Marcus for victory. I finished fifth last year, third now so where will I be next year?"
4. Stobart VK M-Sport Ford
Please check http://ford.rallye-info.com/teams.asp? later for news and quotes.
5. 555 Subaru
After Petter Solberg crashed out of Rally Finland on Leg two and mechanical problems dropped Chris Atkinson out of contention for a podium finish, the team's focus for today's final Leg was testing for the forthcoming gravel rallies. Atkinson set three top-five times on today's four stages and finished the rally in 11th place.
Petter Solberg/Phil Mills: Retired - Accident
Chris Atkinson/Glen MacNeall: "We've been working on the development of the car and we've found a bit of a direction and some ideas to go on. I'm pretty happy with our performance over the weekend as we did exactly what we were supposed to and ran throughout with the top five. We look forward to Japan as I had a good result there when we scored our first podium and we're working on getting another one."