Peugeots pack the podium in Germany Reigning World Champion Marcus Gronholm has finished the Rallye Deutschland in second place ahead of his team-mate Richard Burns, making it two Peugeots in the top three. Richard has also extended his ...
Peugeots pack the podium in Germany
Reigning World Champion Marcus Gronholm has finished the Rallye Deutschland in second place ahead of his team-mate Richard Burns, making it two Peugeots in the top three. Richard has also extended his Drivers' World Championship lead, while Peugeot maintain the lead of the Manufacturers' World Championship.
Marcus drove quickly and consistently during all three days, closing to within four seconds of the winner Sebastien Loeb on the final stage. The Rallye Deutschland is widely acknowledged as one of the most unpredictable tarmac rallies of the World Championship. Conditions varied from bright sunshine to heavy rain, and the surfaces ranged from smooth asphalt to rough concrete.
Marcus started today in a strong second place but his plan to challenge for victory took a setback after he knocked the steering out of line on the opening stage of the morning. Nonetheless, he continued to set a fast and reliable pace in order to lead home Peugeot's challenge.
"This has almost certainly been the most demanding asphalt rally I have ever driven," said Marcus. "It was impossible to predict the weather and that made choosing the right tyres almost impossible. But under difficult circumstances we have come away with a good result. We had a big attack on the final stage, but it wasn't quite enough to take the win."
Richard Burns has extended his World Championship lead to four points over Citroen driver Carlos Sainz after finishing third in Germany. Richard had a strong and reliable run, having led the rally on the opening day. Unpredictable weather hampered his progress on leg two but the rain worked in his favour on the final morning, when he became the last car to escape a sudden downpour that hindered the rest of the field on SS19. Some skilful driving enabled Richard to climb to third place, ending up just 16 seconds behind Marcus.
"The weather has been the biggest factor in this rally," said Richard. "It's been a question of adjusting my pace to suit the conditions, although there were a number occasions where like many people I was caught out. But I'm happy with the result, both for myself and the entire team."
The third factory Peugeot of Gilles Panizzi ended the rally in tenth after a trying three days. He was troubled by brake problems on the opening day, and was also feeling his lack of experience on this event. On the final morning he broke a shock absorber, and from then on concentrated on bringing his car to the finish.
"It's been a difficult rally for me," said Gilles. "I had real problems finding a good feeling with the car and working out the best way to drive it in the varying conditions. Although I was never totally confident, I certainly learnt a lot this weekend."
The 2003-specification Bozian Racing-run 206 WRC of Cedric Robert finished ninth overall, after an excellent run that promises much for the future.
Peugeot Sport team principal Corrado Provera commented: "The podium is the same as last year, but Marcus is now second and Richard third. Marcus had a gigantic battle on the final stage, which just confirms his genius behind the wheel. It was an excellent drive from Richard too, who responded brilliantly to the pressure from Colin McRae. Hats off to Cedric, who came very close to scoring points here, but we feel sorry for Gilles, who was not able to achieve his maximum potential - as he surely will on the remaining asphalt rounds. Richard extends his championship lead and we give just one point away in the manufacturers' championship. Well done to everybody!"
The next World Championship round will be the Rally Finland, which takes place from August 8-10 in the forests around Jyvaskyla.