Tour de Corse (Sunday 10 March 2002) Summary Peugeot's Gilles Panizzi held his nerve in Corsica today to take victory in the Tour de Corse - the third round of the 2002 World Rally Championship. The tarmac expert took the lead on the very...
Tour de Corse (Sunday 10 March 2002)
Peugeot's Gilles Panizzi held his nerve in Corsica today to take victory in the Tour de Corse - the third round of the 2002 World Rally Championship. The tarmac expert took the lead on the very first stage and held it for the duration of the event.
His teammates Marcus Gronholm and Richard Burns finished second and third - completing an all-Peugeot podium. Tarmac specialist Philippe Bugalski finished fourth in a Citroen, while 555 Subaru World Rally Team driver Petter Solberg made two places in the day and beat Carlos Sainz to secure fifth.
The remaining 43 crews left Ajaccio at 0820hrs and tackled 112kms of twisty mountain roads. Two stages were run in the morning and were repeated in the afternoon. The last day of competition brought a return to the bright and sunny weather last seen on leg one, but although conditions were mainly dry, some damp and slippery tarmac remained in shaded areas on the first two tests.
The event was stopped briefly this afternoon when Colin McRae spectacularly crashed his Ford Focus out of the rally on the penultimate stage. His co-driver was uninjured but McRae suffered mild concussion and a broken finger.
SS13 0929hrs Penitencier Coti Chiavari - Pietra Rossa (24.21km)
Fastest Time: Colin McRae (Ford) 15:11.1
The road surface for the first test of the day was still quite damp in places, but Colin McRae seemed perfectly at home and was quickest over the 24km section. A poor time from Bugalski (12th) moved McRae up to fourth overall. The three Peugeots still held the provisional podium, but leader Panizzi looked to be taking things a little steadier with the end almost in sight, he was 7th through, but still kept a useful 41 second gap ahead of second placed Gronholm. No let up for Burns however - he pushed hard and the second-fastest time moved him to within 17 seconds of teammate Gronholm. Petter Solberg's objective for the final day was to catch the two Fords ahead of him but on SS13 he made no time on his immediate target Carlos Sainz - the two shared exactly the same third-fastest time.
SS14 1005hrs Pont de Calzola - Agosta Plage (31.79km)
Fastest Time: Burns (Peugeot) 19:23.9
As the road's dried in the sunshine, Burns continued to pressure Marcus Gronholm. He won the stage, but Marcus was quick too and finished two seconds behind as runner-up. Bugalski responded to McRae's attack on SS13 and was third, he remained fifth overall, but halved McRae's advantage to seven seconds. Solberg and Sainz meanwhile were engaged in a close battle for sixth. Sainz scraped the result on this occasion by 0.3 second but both were inside the top five times. After a largely retirement-free event for the works teams, there were two on SS14. Skoda's Kenneth Eriksson was first, his car's differential broke on the road section before the start. On the stage, Ford's youngster Francois Duval crashed out when a tyre exploded on his Focus and pitched the car off the road.
SS15 1207hrs Penitencier Coti Chiavari - Pietra Rossa (24.21km)
Fastest Time: Gronholm (Peugeot) 15:10.4
There was drama on the penultimate stage when Colin McRae spectacularly crashed his Ford Focus out of the rally. The Scot, lying fourth overall, understeered off the road and hit a tree five kilometres from the start. Colin and his co-driver Nicky Grist were not seriously injured but were airlifted to hospital for precautionary tests. Grist was given the all clear, but McRae suffered mild concussion and a broken finger on his left hand. The stage was stopped temporarily while the emergency services attended the scene. Gilles Panizzi was unable to drive the stage at rally speed and Stewards awarded him the same time as Marcus Gronholm. All other competitors were given Toni Gardemeister's time. The accident overshadowed another significant development, when Petter Solberg, who was less than a second slower than Gronholm, won the battle with Carlos Sainz and moved up to fifth.
SS16 1243hrs Pont de Calzola - Agosta Plage (31.79km)
Fastest Time: Bugalski (Citroen) 19:09.4
He started slowly, but Frenchman Philippe Bugalski finished well and won the final stage. He collected fourth place overall. Gilles Panizzi was second, and claimed his fourth WRC victory by 40 seconds. Burns was third on the stage, Gronholm fourth and Solberg fifth. An unhappy ending though for Armin Schwarz. The German Hyundai driver lost power-steering on the road section to the start and lost three minutes. He dropped from eighth to 13th.
<pre> Stage and overall positions
SS13 SS14 SS15 SS16 SS OA SS OA SS OA SS OA Panizzi 7 1 6 1 =1 1 2 1 Gronholm 5 2 2 2 =1 2 4 2 Burns 2 3 1 3 5 3 3 3 Bugalski 12 5 3 5 =3 4 1 4 Solberg =3 7 5 7 =3 5 5 5 Sainz =3 6 4 6 6 6 6 6 Delecour 10 8 11 8 11 7 11 7 Martin 8 11 9 10 10 9 7 8 Loix 14 13 10 12 9 11 8 9 A. McRae 13 12 13 11 12 10 13 10
</pre> Team Quotes
Petter Solberg: "Very happy, we have done our best with what happened - and we could have had a very good result. We lost around two minutes with a spin on the first day and two punctures yesterday but without that we could have been near the top. We are making improvements on every rally. We struggled a little bit when it was dry but are coming closer and at least we beat Carlos! The whole team has worked very hard this weekend and we've found some small things with the car and tyres that should help in Catalunya."
Sporting Director George Donaldson: "Overall we're disappointed with the final result, we knew it would be difficult to beat the Peugeot's here, but we've made some headway. Perhaps we over-stretched a comfortable fourth and fifth, but that's not our target this year. We plan to stretch things even further in Catalunya to make more inroads. Petter has been very impressive and survived the battle with the most experienced driver in the Championship, Carlos Sainz, and that's a remarkable achievement."
<pre> Final Leaderboard
1. Panizzi / Panizzi Peugeot 206 WRC 3:54:40.3 2. Gronholm / Rautiainen Peugeot 206 WRC +40.5 3. Burns / Reid Peugeot 206 WRC +52.4 4. Bugalski / Chiaroni Citroen Xsara WRC +2:02.2 5. Solberg / Mills Subaru Impreza WRC2002 +2:28.2 6. Sainz / Moya Ford Focus RS WRC02 +2:32.8 7. Delecour / Grataloup Mitsubishi Lancer Evo WRC +5:07.8 8. Martin / Park Ford Focus RS WRC02 +5:20.0 9. Loix / Smeets Hyundai Accent WRC +6:13.8 10. A.McRae / Senior Mitsubishi Lancer Evo WRC +6:32.5
FIA Championship Points Summary
Drivers' 1 Gronholm, 18 =2 Makinen, 10 =2 Panizzi, 10 4 Sainz, 9 5 Burns, 7 (9) Solberg, 3
Manufacturers' 1 Peugeot, 36 2 Ford, 20 3 Subaru, 16 4 Mitsubishi, 5 5 Hyundai, 1 6 Skoda, 0
The next event
Round four of the 2002 World Rally Championship, The Rallye Catalunya, starts in just 12 days time on 22nd March. The all-asphalt rally is based at the Mediterranean coastal town of Lloret de Mar and features sweeping, high-speed stages in the countryside to the north.