Maximum points haul for Peugeot. Peugeot 206 WRC drivers Richard Burns and Marcus Grönholm have secured a maximum points haul for the French manufacturer on the latest round of the FIA World Rally Championship, the Rallye Deutschland, ...
Maximum points haul for Peugeot.
Peugeot 206 WRC drivers Richard Burns and Marcus Grönholm have secured a maximum points haul for the French manufacturer on the latest round of the FIA World Rally Championship, the Rallye Deutschland, which finished this afternoon.
Burns and navigator Robert Reid finished second overall after a close battle with Frenchman Sebastien Loeb, while Grönholm and his co-driver Timo Rautiainen bagged third to consolidate their lead in the drivers' world championship.
Today's stages took crews back to more regular terrain after the Baumholder military complex tests that they faced yesterday. But the blend of twists and narrow layout still provided a difficult challenge.
Burns attacked this morning, determined to put overnight leader Loeb under as much pressure as possible while still ensuring a solid points finish for his team. The two leaders swapped seconds and even tenths of seconds as the morning progressed but in the end, Richard was unable to close the gap and he finished in a fine second overall, less than 15 seconds away from victory.
Richard said: "I couldn't have pushed any harder today, but in the end I have to say congratulations to Sebastien because he put in a good drive. I'm obviously a little disappointed not to have scored my first win for Peugeot but I now feel on top of the 206 WRC on asphalt and with Sanremo next, that's encouraging. Today's stages were a bit more enjoyable to drive than yesterday's but there was pretty much stalemate between Sebastien and myself, so there wasn't much I could do. But six points is good and it's important for us to get another maximum for Peugeot as well."
Grönholm started today's stages still with an outside chance of scoring a victory, and the 2000 world champion pushed hard in the opening stage to see if he could make any impact on the top two. But instead, he slid off briefly at a junction and lost a few seconds. Thereafter, Marcus decided to opt for a safe third overall, content to watch the scrap between Burns and Loeb unfolding in front of him.
Marcus said: "Of course I tried, because we showed yesterday that we could make up quite a bit of time in some stages. But I went off at a junction and ended up sliding into a field, so we lost time. After that, there was no point pushing because we were far enough ahead of the next guy to make third place comfortable. It's been an okay rally for me, but our first-day problem really cost me the chance to fight for the win, because our times were good enough. At least I've taken some good championship points away from here and it's good that Peugeot has another maximum score."
The third works-registered Harri Rovanperä was forced to retire this morning, however. The Finn's car lost its rear wing on the day's second stage and in the following test, the resulting handling caught him out and he slid off the road. Peugeot still managed to get three cars into the points places, though, thanks to Belgian privateer Bruno Thiry. He brought his customer-specification 206 home in fifth overall.
Bruno said: "I'm really happy with such a good result. The car's been working very well, with only very small brake problems occasionally. It's hard to get a privately-entered car anywhere near the points on world championship rallies these days, so fifth is a real bonus. I'm delighted!"
Peugeot Total Team Director Corrado Provera said: "Our German experience has ended with a nice taste in the mouth. We're very happy to have taken the sixth maximum score this season in the manufacturers' championship. Richard tried very hard to catch up with Sebastien Loeb, who has done a very good job on this event, but in the end he had to settle for second. We offer our congratulations to Sebastien and to Richard also. Marcus would have been closer to the battle if he had not had his hydraulic problems, but he and Richard have both helped their efforts in the drivers championship."
The world championship stays on asphalt of the more traditional variety for its next round, the Rallye Sanremo in northern Italy on September 20-22. Peugeot's 206 has won the event for the last two years, and the team will go to the coastal resort with high hopes of further extending its advantage in the manufacturers' championship.