Richard Burns extends World Championship lead Peugeot's Richard Burns has extended his lead of the World Championship for Drivers after finishing third on a closely-fought Rally Finland. Richard's result also means that Peugeot maintains the...
Richard Burns extends World Championship lead
Peugeot's Richard Burns has extended his lead of the World Championship for Drivers after finishing third on a closely-fought Rally Finland. Richard's result also means that Peugeot maintains the lead of the World Championship for Manufacturers.
Richard was in contention for the lead until he dropped a minute with a broken wheel bearing on the final two stages yesterday. He started today's final leg in second place, just half a second ahead of Citroen's Carlos Sainz and Subaru's Petter Solberg in third and fourth.
After a tight battle on the final six stages today, Richard chose not to take risks and end the Rally Finland in a secure third place. His Peugeot 206 WRC was entirely reliable, and the Englishman was satisfied with his result after a very tough event.
He said: "I drove like crazy today but I really didn't want to take any risks at this point. I've had a very enjoyable fight today and a very good rally in general. To come away from Finland with six points and still in the lead of the championship is superb. I'm very pleased."
Today's six stages were typical of the Rally Finland, with fast crests and high average speeds. Richard had to find a delicate balance between driving fast enough to see off his rivals, and carefully enough to be sure of making the finish.
Sadly, his team mates were not so lucky. Reigning World Champion Marcus Gronholm was bidding for his fourth consecutive Rally Finland win, but was forced to retire from the lead yesterday when a wheel bearing failed on SS14. The third Peugeot of Harri Rovanpera also retired yesterday after going off the road on SS12.
But the strong performances of some local experts made it three Peugeots in the top 10 by the end of the event. Sebastien Lindholm finished eighth in his customer-specification Peugeot 206 WRC, while Juuso Pykalisto was ninth in his Bozian-run 2003-specification Peugeot. Just outside the top 10, former World Champion Ari Vatanen finished 11th in his privateer Peugeot 206 WRC.
Peugeot Sport team principal Corrado Provera reflected on a rally of mixed fortunes for the 206 WRC squad. " It's clear that this rally has been totally disappointing for us," he said. "We simply haven't been worthy of our role as reigning World Champions. We have handicapped ourselves on this event from the start, but our consolation once again is the performance of Richard Burns, who has been excellent throughout all three days. He is fighting for his own drivers' championship and our manufacturers' championship at the same time and I know he did everything possible here. I can only tell him 'well done!' "
The next round of the World Rally Championship is the Rally Australia, based in Perth from September 5-7. Peugeot finished first and second on the Australian event last year and is hoping for a repeat of that triumph this time round.