Richard Burns leads World Championship. Peugeot driver Richard Burns has moved into the lead of the World Rally Championship after finishing second on the Rally of Turkey. The Englishman's fast yet consistent performance over three of...
Richard Burns leads World Championship.
Peugeot driver Richard Burns has moved into the lead of the World Rally Championship after finishing second on the Rally of Turkey. The Englishman's fast yet consistent performance over three of the toughest days of competition on this year's calendar was enough to boost him to the top of the points standings. Road conditions in Turkey were constantly difficult, with drivers describing some sections as being rougher than the Safari.
The 2001 World Champion said: "We've had a very good event and enjoyed perfect reliability throughout. That's been the key to getting this result. It's certainly not been easy, but we expected the conditions to be this rough. I'm also in the lead of the championship now, which is very satisfying."
Richard suffered no major mechanical problems during the rally and was able to steer clear of trouble. But his team mates were not so lucky.
Harri Rovanpera was forced to drop out of the lead after damaging a damper against a rock on stage 10. He eventually retired three stages later when the rear axle broke.
Reigning World Champion Marcus Gronholm lost several minutes on the opening day with power steering problems, and was forced to run first on the road thereafter. Despite his best efforts, he could not climb higher than ninth by the finish.
"It's been a frustrating rally for me," said Marcus. "We lost so much time on the first day that it was very difficult to stay motivated for the rest of the event. Now we just have to look forward to New Zealand."
But there was good news for asphalt expert Gilles Panizzi who scored his best-ever result on gravel. The Frenchman finished fifth in his Bozian-run 2002-specification 206 WRC, and had no major dramas during the three days.
"I'm very happy," he said. "I have learnt more and more about how to drive the car on gravel throughout the three days, and the experience has given me even more confidence on these types of surfaces."
Peugeot Sport team principal Corrado Provera commented: "We are half-pleased with this very rough rally! On the one hand, Richard has put in an excellent performance and he has moved into the lead of the world championship. We are very happy for him, and I would like to thank him for the good work he has done. On the other hand, we are sorry for the mechanical problems on Marcus's car, without which I think he would have been able to fight for victory. It's a pity also that Harri was not able to continue in the lead. But I'd like to congratulate Gilles too, who has done an excellent job."
The Championship moves to the other side of the world for the next round, the Rally New Zealand from April 11-13. The fast, flowing gravel roads have been good to Peugeot in the past, and the entire team will be working hard for another successful result.