Peugeot driver Marcus Gronholm heads into the final leg of the Rally Finland tomorrow with a 35 second lead. The Finn is just 95 competitive kilometres away from sealing the first victory for the 307 WRC. Marcus has led from the sixth stage of his...
Peugeot driver Marcus Gronholm heads into the final leg of the Rally Finland tomorrow with a 35 second lead. The Finn is just 95 competitive kilometres away from sealing the first victory for the 307 WRC. Marcus has led from the sixth stage of his home event, and notched up another 4 stage wins today.
Leg two was the longest of the entire event, containing eight stages including two runs over the legendary Ouninpohja, with its famous breathtaking crests. Weather conditions remained warm all day.
Marcus started the day strongly, and had no problems at all with his 307 WRC during the opening loop of stages. But his car developed a gearbox problem during the afternoon that meant that he was deprived of fourth gear for the middle loop of three stages. Despite this, Marcus managed to keep his opposition at bay despite being limited to a top speed of about 160 kilometres an hour on the fast Finnish roads. The gearbox was changed at service, and Marcus went on to secure his advantage at the top of the leaderboard.
The three-time Rally Finland winner said: "Today has not been an easy day, but I'm delighted to be leading. We started off with a feeling that was quite all right, but still not completely perfect. Then we had the gearbox problem that was a real worry, but we actually lost less time than I thought we would. The last stages were fine, but I could not relax for a minute. We have to keep pushing hard until the very end."
Sebastian Lindholm, making his debut in the 307 WRC, started today in second place after a scintillating drive yesterday that saw him challenge Marcus all the way. But his charge was halted by an accident on SS12, Ouninpohja, which forced him into retirement on the spot. Sebastian will re-start tomorrow's leg under the trial of the new Superally system.
"We ran a little wide on a 90 degree right hand corner in Ouninpohja and the back wheel dropped into a ditch," said Sebastian. "We slid along the ditch for a little while and I thought that we would probably get away with it, but then the back wheel hit a rock and that caused the car to roll. I'm very disappointed, as we were going hard, but not crazy."
Harri Rovanpera was unfortunately forced to retire from the lead after an accident on SS6 yesterday, having set four fastest stage times.
Tomorrow's final leg of the Rally Finland gets underway at 0700, with competitors tackling four decisive stages. The winner is expected on the finish ramp back in Jyvaskyla at 1456.