San Remo report

World Rally Championship Rallye San Remo The San Remo Rally, which has for some years been driven entirely on asphalt, was taken this year back to gravel. Many of the top drivers were happy with the change: "The gravel roads of...

World Rally Championship Rallye San Remo The San Remo Rally, which has for some years been driven entirely on asphalt, was taken this year back to gravel. Many of the top drivers were happy with the change: "The gravel roads of Tuscany are extremely fun to drive", said Juha kankkunen, who brought the long awaited new Toyota Celica to the line for the first time in WRC. The only problem with the roads is the loose gravel which makes it very slippery for the first cars and slows them down considerably. The best starting numbers are around 10, as they get to drive after the first cars have sweeped the gravel off of the racing line. All the top teams appeared to the San Remo starting line with full lineups. On the first day Carlos Sainz was fastest; his chase for the Championship had started. At the end of the day his lead was one minute and one second. Second was, quite surprisingly, Ford's Malcolm Wilson. Ford brought a very strong lineup to Italy, even without the presence of the Scmidt team which is struggling in financial troubles. Third was Bruno Thiry with the RAS Ford and fourth Championship leader Didier Auriol with the old version of Toyota Celica. Juha Kankkunen with the new Celica was in all sorts of trouble. He suffered from his small starting number (2, whereas Sainz had 11) and he also had problems with the drivetrain. The 4WD wasn't working properly and Kankkunen broke several front drive shafts. He was 11th over 6 mins behind the leader. Unluckiest of all during the first day was 1000 Lakes winner Tommi Makinen who drove this time for Mitsubishi. On the first special stages he blew tires, spun once, and finally the suspension failed on the Lancer and he had to retire on SS 5. Sainz had to start the second day as the first car on the road, and this immmediately affected his stage times; he wasn't fastest on any of the day's stages. He also had a hairy moment as he spun at 150kmh and touched a bridge railing. Luckily there was no serious damage and the incident cost only 20 secs. During the day Didier Auriol gained one minute on Sainz and he was second at the end of the day, still 1.13 behind Carlos. Didier had caught a flu and had fever; he was quite understandably very tired in the evening. Ford's Miki biasion had risen to the 3rd place, 4th was still Bruno Thiry and 5th Colin McRae. Malcolm Wilson hit a wall of a mountain, lost 8 mins, and dropped to 9th. The fastest driver of the day was Juha Kankkunen, who had a new setup in his Celica. Juha caught Sainz by over two minutes but he was still 7th, 4 mins behind. The last 6 special stages on the final day were driven on asphalt roads and nobody thought there would be much change in the top. Didier Auriol was still feverish but nevertheless he started a massive charge right from the early morning. Carlos Sainz wasn't happy with the asphalt setup of his Subaru and he also lost some 20 secs because of problems with the fuel injection. At the second-to-last stage Auriol did, much to everybody's astonishment, take the lead and on the last SS he even managed to extend it to 21 secs. Third in San Remo was Miki Biasion who was also very fast on the last day and finished only 47 secs behind Auriol. Bruno Thiry and Colin McRae kept their positions, 4th and 5th, respectively. McRae was threatened on the final stages by the Italian 'asphalt-specialist' Gianfranco Cunico who was even faster than Didier Auriol during the last day. Juha Kankkunen finished 7th and thus lost his remaining hopes for another Championship title. For him the rally was mostly testing the new car after the troubles on the first day. Mitsubishi's bad luck continued right to the end; on the road section before the last SS Armin Schwarz's car caught fire and he had to retire from 8th place. With the win in San Remo Didier Auriol took a firm grip of this year's Championship. Carlos Sainz has to win the RAC Rally in order to prevent Auriol of becoming the first ever French World Rally Champion. And even if Carlos wins in RAC, Didier will win the title by finishing 4th or better. But anything can happen in RAC, and Didier, if anyone, knows that. Results of WRC San Remo Rally: 1. Didier Auriol / Bernard Occelli Toyota 5:56.40 2. Carlos Sainz / Luis Moya Subaru -0.21 3. Massimo Biasion / Tiziano Siviero Ford -0.47 4. Bruno Thiry / Stephane Prevot Ford -1.17 5. Colin McRae / Derek Ringer Subaru -1.36 6. Franco Cunico / Stefano Evangelisti Ford -1.51 7. Juha Kankkunen / Nicky Grist Toyota -4.18 8. Piero Longhi / Flavio Zanella Toyota -9.09 9. Malcolm Wilson / Bryan Thomas Ford -11.02 10. Jorge Bica / Mauro Capelo Lancia -30.26 ... World Championship standing, drivers: 1. Didier Auriol 110 pts 2. Carlos Sainz 99 3. Juha Kankkunen 78 4. Miki Biasion 42 5. Bruno Thiry 32 6. Armin Schwarz 31 ... Manufacturers: 1. Toyota 165 (Confirmed winner) 2. Subaru 146 3. Ford 102 4. Mitsubishi 41 5. Renault 4 Skoda 4 Next event: RAC Rally, Great Britain, Nov. 20-23. -- =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= = Petri Karonen Email: pakar@tukki.jyu.fi = = World Rally Championship Infosystem: http://www.jyu.fi/~pakar/ = =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

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Series WRC
Drivers Tommi Makinen , Colin McRae , Carlos Sainz , Didier Auriol , Armin Schwarz , Juha Kankkunen , Luis Moya , Nicky Grist , Miki Biasion , Tiziano Siviero , Derek Ringer , Stéphane Prévot , Malcolm Wilson , Bryan Thomas , Piero Longhi