BFGoodrich studs star in the Swedish snow! * Marcus Gronholm (Ford/BFGoodrich) celebrates his 38th birthday by claiming his 20th World Championship win * Fire and ice. After the heat and sand of January's Dakar Rally, BFGoodrich tyres triumph...
BFGoodrich studs star in the Swedish snow!
* Marcus Gronholm (Ford/BFGoodrich) celebrates his 38th birthday by claiming his 20th World Championship win
* Fire and ice. After the heat and sand of January's Dakar Rally, BFGoodrich tyres triumph in icy Sweden as the thermometer drops to -20C!
The thrilling clash between Marcus Gronholm (Ford/BFGoodrich) and Sebastien Loeb (Citroen/BFGoodrich) that marked the 2006 Swedish Rally continued all the way to the final stage, eventually ending in the favour of the Finn to take his score to a total of four wins on this event.
Despite taking a 10-second penalty on Day 1 following a problem with his bonnet, Loeb completed the first leg just 10.2 seconds behind Gronholm. However, the following day saw the Frenchman make two tyre choice errors which allowed the ever incisive Gronholm to extend his overnight lead. On the final morning, the Finn's Ford Focus was slowed by hydraulics trouble which enabled Loeb closed to within 14 seconds again. But once repairs had been made by his team at service, Gronholm was able to push hard through the rally's final loop of three stages to beat the Xsara driver by 30.9 seconds and claim his 20th WRC win.
The scrap for third place between the Mitsubishi pair Gigi Galli and Daniel Carlsson proved equally as exciting and the gap between the two never exceeded 8.4 seconds. In the end, it was the Italian who joined Gronholm and Loeb on the podium.
Following the problems of Peugeot/BFGoodrich runners Henning Solberg and Manfred Stohl (who both rolled on the same corner of SS11!), an off for Mattias Ekstrom (Skoda/BFGoodrich) and the retirement of Janne Tuohino (Citroen/BFGoodrich) in the final stage, fifth place finally fell to Thomas Radstrom (Subaru/BFGoodrich).
The Scandinavian round proved just as troubled as the recent Monte Carlo Rally for last year's Swedish Rally winner Petter Solberg (Subaru) who dropped three minutes on Day 1 with transmission trouble but was finally excluded for having been pushed.
Marcus Gronholm (Ford BP WRT/BFGOODRICH): "That was a great fight with Seb. I was very pleased with the performance of my BFGoodrich tyres throughout the rally. It's nice to win here in Sweden again."
Sebastien Loeb (Kronos Total Citroen /BFGOODRICH): "To finish second and score eight points is not so bad after my poor tyre choices on Saturday. For the last three stages, I made one final effort by fitting 'long' studs at the front and 'normal' studs at the rear. I tried everything but Marcus was unbeatable this weekend. Despite my tyre choice errors, My BFGoodrich tyres were extremely competitive and lasted well during the whole rally."
Aime Chatard (BFGOODRICH Rallies Programme Manager): "It's been a great Swedish Rally with icy stages for the first two days and a covering of fresh snow on Sunday morning. These perfect conditions brought out the very best in the drivers, cars and tyres. As on the Monte Carlo Rally, tyre choice -- or rather stud choice -- proved decisive in the match between Gronholm and Loeb, proving yet again that ice at -15C and ice at -2C are completely different for tyres. It's exactly the same phenomenon that you get on the Dakar Rally where you can come across very different types of sand."