Ford ended its FIA World Rally Championship winning season by claiming its first Rally GB victory for 27 years today. Marcus GrÃ¶nholm and Timo Rautiainen led the three-day event from start to finish through the muddy forests of south Wales to ...
Ford ended its FIA World Rally Championship winning season by claiming its first Rally GB victory for 27 years today. Marcus Grönholm and Timo Rautiainen led the three-day event from start to finish through the muddy forests of south Wales to triumph by 1min 35.5sec in their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car. Manfred Stohl (Peugeot) claimed his best result of the season in second, holding off the challenge of Petter Solberg (Subaru). The Norwegian dropped20 seconds after puncturing and spinning on the second stage this morning. Jari-Matti Latvala (Ford) claimed a career best result in fourth ahead of Xevi Pons (Citroen), who spun in the same stage as Solberg. Chris Atkinson (Subaru) rounded off the top six.
Kronos Total Citroen
Both of the Kronos Total Citroen Xsara crews have finished in the points on the last round of the season, underlining once more their perfect balance between speed and consistency despite their tender years. Xevi Pons/Carlos Del Barrio are fifth, while Dani Sordo/Marc Marti are seventh. Most importantly of all, Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena end the year as World Champions for the third time.
Xevi Pons/Carlos Del Barrio: " It has been a huge privilege for me to carry Sébastien's number on my car and to work with him and the entire team. Thanks to them I feel that I have improved a lot over the course of the season. "
Dani Sordo/Marc Marti: " The roads were incredibly fast and narrow, and the weather conditions made life even more difficult. But I am very pleased to see that our pace notes were largely correct even though it was our first time here. My target throughout this year was to learn, and it's incredible that I have managed to do all 16 rallies when the original plan was just to do three ! There have been many fantastic memories for me, but if I had to choose one it would be standing on the podium at my home rally in Spain. I would like to thank the entire Kronos team for all their efforts, which have enabled me to learn so much. "
The OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team has completed the most successful season in the history of rallying with a sensational result at the "Wales Rally GB". Following Australia and New Zealand the OMV duo Manfred Stohl and Ilka Minor reached the podium for the third time in a row and the fourth time this year with second overall place. Thus Stohl also secured fourth place in the driver WRC 2006. Norwegian teammates Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud finished the last run to the FIA World Rally Championship in eleventh place and take eighth place in the final WRC standings.
Manfred Stohl/Ilka Minor: "After everything is over you need some time to realise what just has happened. Now the joy is overwhelming, of course. A privateer right among the works teams on the podium - and it is not a dream but reality. Just like these three podium places in a row."
Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud: "It was important to us to win back our self-confidence after the slip. And there were several times I was very content with afterwards. But unfortunately we were too far behind. Therefore it was impossible to score points. But I still can be very satisfied with this season. The highlights were, of course, the podium place in Turkey and fourth place in Finland."
Ford ended its FIA World Rally Championship winning season by claiming its first Rally GB victory for 27 years today. Marcus Grönholm and Timo Rautiainen led the three-day event from start to finish through the muddy forests of south Wales to triumph by 1min 35.5sec in their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car. It was the seventh victory of the season for the Finnish duo, and the eighth for the BP-Ford World Rally Team - making it Ford's most successful rally season ever.
Marcus Grönholm/Timo Rautiainen: "It's fantastic to win again and this ends a great season in perfect style. It has been a long three days in the Welsh forests but we were able to drive cautiously today on what were the most difficult stages of the event. It was made easier for me yesterday when Petter Solberg had problems and since then I have had the rally under control."
Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen: Retired after damage sustained from accident on Leg One
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford
The Stobart VK M-Sport Ford team celebrated its finest hour in the World Rally Championship today, clinching fourth position on its home round of the series, Wales Rally Great Britain.
Matthew Wilson/Michael Orr: "The spin in the second stage cost us quite a lot of time, maybe 20 seconds or something like that. It was in a long hairpin, I braked for the corner and put it sideways. From then on it just picked up speed, the front of the car touched a bank and that spun the car right around. Then I had to move forward and backwards to get us facing the right direction. That happened quite close to the start of the stage, which took away my confidence for the rest. It was a shame because the first one this morning had been okay, we'd gone well in there. For the rest of the day, I was focused on getting to the finish, not making mistakes and just getting more experience of the roads. I have been surprised at how tough this event has been. I knew it would be different coming here and not having driven in the wet conditions, but it really has been like a different rally. I think I needed about 15 runs on the recce rather than just two, and even then I'm still not sure I'd know exactly what to expect!"
Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila: "After I had been in fourth place for so much of the event, I didn't really want to give it up this morning. I pushed in the first stage and took a couple of seconds out of [Xevi] Pons. Then in the next one he had some sort of problem (a spin), which made a bigger gap between us. To be honest, I could have gone quicker in SS15, but I had a big moment not far from the start of the stage, so I was aware of what I was risking all of the time. I didn't want any mistakes, so I was more sensible after that. The roads have been just as slippery as ever today, but clinching this position is just amazing. I said at the start that I wanted to make some points, but I didn't really know if that was possible. To come here and do this kind of rally has been incredible!"
The Subaru World Rally Team finished Rally GB with a flourish, setting three fastest stage times from the day's four special stages and ending the day with both cars firmly in the points. Petter Solberg and Phil Mills were fastest on the leg and finished third, maintaining the strong finishing record they have had on this event in the past five years. In the other Impreza WRC2006, Chris Atkinson and Glenn Macneall came home in sixth position.
Petter Solberg/Phil Mills: "A difficult day, but the stage times we set were very competitive and that was encouraging. I set a very fast time on the first stage, but the puncture and spin we had in the second test made it impossible to overtake Manfred Stohl. We were quick again after that, but the gap to second place was too big, so we had to settle for third. I'm not too unhappy with that result in the last rally of the season. It is good for the team and also for Pirelli, I would like to thank them because we've had lots of good rallies together. I was enjoying the stages in the afternoon and the pace we were setting shows that next year, when things are going better for us, I think we will be very fast.
Chris Atkinson/Glen MacNeall: "We had a steady run through this morning's two stages and consolidated sixth place, which was the main objective for today. The result isn't ideal, but it has been a really tough event and our aim was to get to the end of the rally and that's what we've done. A points finish is a good way to end a tough year and now we can turn our attentions to making the car strong for the start of the 2007 season. The team has been working incredibly hard and next year we want to reward them with wins."
Red Bull Skoda
The Red Bull Skoda was able to celebrate a positive end to this year's rally season at the final WRC event in Wales. Despite Andreas Aigner's early retirement on the first day, Finland's Harri Rovanpera achieved P9 in the final standings, which was rewarded with one point for the manufacturers' world championship
Andreas Aigner/Klaus Wicha: "Of course a retirement at the end of the season is far from ideal, but I have already gotten over it. Otherwise this season was a very positive one from my point of view. My sixth place in Germany was the highlight, but I was also pleased with some of the top ten times that I set on various special stages during the season. That's why I can look to the future very positively."
Harri Rovanpera/Risto Pietiläinen: "I believe I was going rather quickly. This rally in Britain suits me, that's where I got my best results so far. Nevertheless I feel that a little bit more could have been possible, unfortunately I lost some time on Saturday afternoon because of a lack of grip. But I achieved my objective to bring home my best result for our team in Wales."