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Cyprus Rally 2000
Round 10 of the FIA World Rally Championship 7-10th September
End of Rally, Leg 3 Sunday 10th September
Extract from Official FIA Press Release

Carlos Sainz produced a dominant performance to win the first ever FIA World Rally Championship Cyprus Rally. The Spaniard led from start to finish, heading his team mate Colin McRae over the line to bounce right back into the battle for the championship. Four rounds remain and the top four title-chasing crews are covered by just seven points. The FIA World Rally Championship now moves to Corsica (which has moved from its usual May date) and San Remo for a double dose of intense asphalt action before the title battle reaches its climax in Australia and Britain. For the moment, however, Sainz will be concerned only with celebrating his first win since the 1998 Rally of New Zealand and Ford's second 1-2 finish of the year.

"I pushed hard on the first stage today but once I saw that I could hold off Colin then I eased back a little," said rally winner Carlos Sainz. The Spaniard has led the Cyprus Rally from the first stage on Friday and now joins Juha Kankkunen at the top of the win list with 23 WRC victories. When he reached the lunchtime regroup in Limassol today the Ford Martini team management issued instructions for its two drivers, holding a comfortable 1-2 position, to not fight between them and risk the result. Team boss Malcolm Wilson said of Sainz, "Carlos has really changed his character for this event. He's totally focussed, has been training hard and is really fit." Of the Cyprus Rally he added, "Considering this is the first time the organisers have run a full WRC event they must be complimented. If they continue to be receptive to advice and suggestions then the future looks good for the event." Sainz added that he was really enjoying both the event and the island. "It's a nice place to bring family and friends to stay and enjoy the rally. The stages certainly have their own character."

François Delecour decided that tactics were not an issue today. "All I am doing is making sure I stay ahead of Richard," he said. The Frenchman was almost a minute behind Colin McRae and, after Burns hit trouble on SS18, over a minute clear of the Englishman so this was not too difficult a quest. Despite team leader Marcus Gronholm's retirement on Friday, Gronholm continues to lead the championship. The next two events, on asphalt in Corsica and San Remo, are not his strongest choices and so he will have to fend off McRae and Burns before he gets onto gravel again for the final two rounds of the season.

There was panic in the Subaru camp at the end of today's opening stage when Richard Burns' car refused to restart at the time control. A misfire on the stage had meant a slow time but it seemed that, for the fourth event in succession, Burns would be forced out in cruel circumstances. However, the crew managed to get the car going again and the problem seemed to have been caused by a loose electrical connection. The next two stages would be tackled with fingers crossed! Frustratingly for Burns he was quickest on each of them and was left to consider what might have been. "Everything that could have gone wrong this morning did," he said. "I had to change a tyre before the stage after I found a nail in it. Then the electrical problem occurred and it would take anything up to five seconds between me pressing the throttle and anything happening. My 'cool suit' also failed and so I'm quite looking forward to reaching the pool this afternoon!" The propshaft failure on yesterday's final stage was attributed to a rock becoming jammed in the transmission tunnel and eventually grinding away the shaft until it broke. Team mate Juha Kankkunen said of the first WRC Cyprus Rally, "The concept of the event fits in with what people need from such a rally - constant variety. This rally has heat and twisty stages that can't be found anywhere else."

Team boss Andrew Cowan reflected on the improved form for the Ralliart team, saying, "We've done nothing special except prepare hard for this event and had the good fortune to break everything in testing rather than on the rally itself! It's been a long time since I've seen Tommi enjoying himself so much in a rally car." Cyprus also marked Freddy Loix's best performance since he joined the team at the start of last season. He has struggled to find form in the past but has finally shown the kind of speed that everyone knew him to be capable of. Makinen had a gearbox mounting problem after SS19 that forced him to be cautious when changing gear while Loix was concerned that there were some rogues bits of metal in his transmission.

Other teams
Markko Martin had to give best to Tommi Makinen in the race for fifth place today, but the young Estonian was not too despondent. "It's nice to finish sixth here," he said. "The stages are very different to anywhere else in the championship." Gustavo Trelles' Group N win has opened up the production car category of the FIA World Rally Championship. Fourth place keeps Manfred Stohl at the head of the pack but reigning four-time champion Trelles is now snapping at his heels. Gabriel Pozzo rolled this morning but was able to continue without losing second place behind Trelles. Toshihiro Arai's FIA Teams Cup success means that Spike Subaru now takes over the series lead from Toyota Team Saudi Arabia's Abdullah Bakhashab.

Tyre facts
Michelin's research and development staff were delighted with the 1-2-3 performance of the familiar Michelin Z pattern which was being used here for the first time with a 10 construction/compound. This week's performance is a tremendous reward for the intense development work they put in over the summer despite the very short timeframe available for testing and production. After the 1-2 success of this tyre with Ford-Michelin on the Acropolis Rally, the latest evolution of this product was used by all of Michelin's partners throughout the rally.

Richard Burns (Subaru-Pirelli) continues to fight for the World Rally Championship despite a few technical setbacks on this event. He set fastest time on four of today's six stages using the XR pattern tyre. Mitsubishi-Pirelli crews took the top four places in Group N with Gustavo Trelles winning to move into second place in the championship behind Manfred Stohl and ahead of Gabriel Pozzo.
Unofficial Final Results
1 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 5:26:04,9
2 McRae Ford Focus WRC 5:26:42,2
3 Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 5:27:35,7
4 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 5:28:09,0
5 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer 5:29:03,1
6 Martin Toyota Corolla WRC 5:29:50,3
7 Kankkunen Subaru Impreza WRC 5:33:06,6
8 Loix Mitsubishi Carisma 5:34:10,6
9 Arai Subaru Impreza WRC 5:35:20,8
10 Jean-Joseph Subaru Impreza WRC 5:48:21,0

Group N
1 Trelles Mitsu Lancer Evo VI 5:48:45,6
2 Pozzo Mitsu Lancer Evo VI 5:50:26,0
3 Menzi Mitsu Lancer Evo VI 5:51:21,4

Teams Cup
1 Arai Subaru Impreza WRC 5:35:20,8 Spike Subaru
Provisional FIA World Championship Points
FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers (unofficial positions after 10 of 14 rounds):
Gronholm (FIN) 44
McRae (GB) 42
Burns (GB) 41
Sainz (E) 37
Makinen (FIN) 28
Kankkunen (FIN) 18

FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers (unofficial positions after 10 of 14 rounds):
Subaru 64
Ford 79
Peugeot 58
Mitsubishi 35
Skoda 8
Hyundai 5

FIA Cup for Drivers of Production Cars (unofficial positions after 10 of 14 rounds):
Stohl (A) 48
Trelles (ROU) 42
Paasonen (FIN) 21
Pozzo (RA) 22
Menzi (I) 16
Campos (P) 13
Pykalisto (FIN) 12

FIA Teams' Cup (unofficial positions after 10 of 14 rounds):
Spike Subaru Rally Team 36
Toyota Team Saudi Arabia 32
F.Dor Rally Team 26
Team Ataken 13
Wisja TV Turning Point Rally Team 10
Arab World Rally Team 10
Leg 3 Stage Winners
SS18 - Makinen, SS19 - Burns, SS20 - Burns, SS21 - Makinen, sSS22 - Burns, SS23 - Burns
Leading Retirements
SS17 Toni Gardemeister (Seat Cordoba) - Accident
SS9 Frederic Dor (Subaru Impreza) - Fire
SS6 Marcus Gronholm (Peugeot 206 WRC) - electrical
SS7 Didier Auriol (Seat Cordoba WRC) - rear wheel bearing
SS2 Armin Schwarz (Skoda Octavia) - rolled
SS4 Luis Climent (Skoda Octavia) - no oil pressure
SS1 Bakhashab (Toyota Corolla) - gearbox
SS 18, Vavatsinia - Mandra tou Kambiou 19.11km 1st Car: 09:21
1 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer 17:05,7
2 Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 17:09,5
3 Martin Toyota Corolla WRC 17:16,5
4 Kankkunen Subaru Impreza WRC 17:20,5
5 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 17:22,0
SS 19, Agios Onoufrios -Agioi Vavatsinias 18.10km 1st Car: 10:04
1 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 16:26,1
2 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer 16:32,6
3 McRae Ford Focus WRC 16:41,8
4 Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 16:44,4
5 Loix Mitsubishi Carisma 16:45,7
SS 20, Lageia - Kalavasos 9.62km 1st Car: 10:52
1 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 8:38,6
2 McRae Ford Focus WRC 8:39,9
3 Loix Mitsubishi Carisma 8:41,1
4 Kankkunen Subaru Impreza WRC 8:41,4
5 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer 8:42,7
SS 21, Vavatsinia - Mandra tou Kambiou 2 19.11km 1st Car: 13:47
1 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer 16:58,3
2 Kankkunen Subaru Impreza WRC 17:08,3
3 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 17:08,6
4 Loix Mitsubishi Carisma 17:12,1
4 Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 17:12,1
SS 22, Machairas - Agioi Vavatsinias 13.19km 1st Car: 14:35
1 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 11:40,0
2 McRae Ford Focus WRC 11:50,4
3 Loix Mitsubishi Carisma 11:51,2
4 Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 11:57,0
5 Martin Toyota Corolla WRC 11:59,0
SS 23, Lageia - Kalavasos 2 9.62km 1st Car: 15:18
1 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 8:35,8
2 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer 8:37,8
3 Martin Toyota Corolla WRC 8:40,3
4 McRae Ford Focus WRC 8:43,0
5 Kankkunen Subaru Impreza WRC 8:44,1

End of Leg 2 Saturday 9th September
Extract from Official FIA Press Release

Toni Gardemeister may have been the only major retirement on the first six of today's eight stages but there have been plenty of other dramas to keep drivers and teams on their toes. Carlos Sainz continues to lead the Cyprus Rally, as he has from the start. However, Marcus Gronholm's retirement yesterday and the positions of Sainz, Colin McRae and Richard Burns means that, if the current result is unchanged, the FIA World Rally Championship will see the top four drivers covered by just seven points. There are, however, 89kms of stages left to run tomorrow and there is always the chance that the newest event in the Championship will provide a sting in the tail.

Carlos Sainz continued to lead the event over the first group of stages today but his run of fastest times came to an end. "It wasn't best to be first on the road this morning although the stages were quite clean and not really any rougher than yesterday," he admitted. Sainz promised to attack hard on the next two stages, repeats of yesterday's demanding SS5/6 combination. "That's where you can gain a lot of time," he said. Colin McRae agreed with Sainz and went as far as to suggest that SS13 and SS14 could actually decide the outcome of the event. "Today's leg really starts with those two stages," he explained. It looked as though his prediction had come true when Richard Burns hit trouble on SS13 while on the next stage McRae set his first fastest time of the event to move into second place ahead of the limping Subaru. "It was a long and difficult stage but none of those that follow offer the same opportunity to really attack," he said. "You can't push too hard or the wheels just spin and you must keep out of the ruts. Today's last few stages are a different character and we won't push too hard." Sainz refuses to turn his thoughts to possible victory at this stage of the event. "Surprises can happen at any time in rallying. Losing the World Championship just 300 metres from the end in 1998 proved that to me," he reflected. Predictably the subject of team orders was raised by journalists in the service park. Team boss Malcolm Wilson answered the questions, saying, " Carlos is producing one of the drives of his life and it would be a brave man, a VERY brave man, who dare impose orders on the drivers right now!"

Overnight the event stewards reduced Juha Kankkunen's time penalty by two minutes and so the Finn was promoted one place on the leaderboard. The team replaced the turbo on the Finn's car before the first stage today, however, he stalled the engine of his Subaru on the stage and immediately lost a couple of seconds in his bid to overhaul Tommi Makinen. He was fastest on the third stage today as he began to reel in Toni Gardemeister's SEAT. Team mate Richard Burns damaged the rear valance of his car in his quest to catch rally leader Carlos Sainz. He moved ahead of Peugeot's Francois Delecour on today's second stage but was still over a minute behind the Spaniard after the first three tests. Burns then struck trouble on SS13 when a front right damper was damaged. The unit failed completely on SS14 and he completed the stage with the wheel jammed into the wheel arch and his heart in his mouth as he tackled the 40kms to service. The drama cost him almost a minute to SS14 winner McRae and saw the Scot pass him for second place. A further problem with a driveshaft on SS17 dropped Burns behind Peugeot's Delecour and it may also cost him second place in the championship. " Frustration doesn't come close to describing the feeling right now," he said.

Francois Delecour was quick to acknowledge that it was going to be hard to catch Carlos Sainz today and, indeed, his main concern was his battle with Richard Burns for second place. An early puncture was a minor setback but the team was more worried that the fuel consumption that nearly scuppered his event late last night might be a factor in the SS13-14 loop. The team adjusted the engine mapping and the problem never materialised. Delecour suffered with brake-fade problems during that pair of stages. Team engineer Michel Nandan explained, "I think the problem was excessive heat. It wasn't because of any damage and it's not because of the number of corners on the event. The temperatures are just higher than normal."

Freddy Loix got off to a flying start today by setting fastest time on the opening stage and team-mate Tommi Makinen responded by taking fastest on the second. "It was very good, an exciting feeling," said Loix who seems to have rediscovered his lost form on this event. "The car was very stable and when we reached the finish we knew we'd set a fast time. If the car stays like this then we'll be getting more good results," he added. It was just reward for the mechanics' efforts at this morning's service park before the first stage. A strange noise from the rear differential and propshaft forced a rapid replacement. The job normally takes 15 minutes but the team completed it within the allowed 10 minute slot and got Loix on his way without penalty. Makinen was delighted with his own pace and has been encouraged by the amount of support he is getting from the fans. "There appears to be half of Finland out on the stages," he said. The other half is in Monza supporting Mika Hakkinen! Makinen felt his car was down on power during SS13 and 14 so the team changed the turbo after the stages.

Toni Gardemeister continued to set competitive times today, driving faster than yesterday over the same stages, although his overall position slipped one place on the first trio of tests. Unfortunately he then crashed out of the event 17kms into SS14 to leave SEAT once again with no finishers. Ironically, up to that point, no cars had retired on today's leg. "I had some brake problems early in the stage," he explained. "Then, after 17kms we just slid five metres off the road on a slow corner and couldn't get back to the road. It was a really disappointing way to end the event." Team manager Jaime Puig said, " It's obviously a disappointment not to finish, and not just because of our decision to stop rallying at the end of the year. We are still determined to get a good result before we stop. A win might not be possible but we would like to get onto the podium at least one more time."

Other teams
Markko Martin punctured on the opening stage and lost some time but his Michelin mousse saved him from anything more disastrous and he was able to go on to set extremely competitive times to stay in the top five. Not so fortunate was FIA Teams Cup leader Toshihiro Arai whose Spike Subaru broke its front diff and had to struggle through the first three stages before it could be fixed. Gustavo Trelles continued to lead Group N from Gabriel Pozzo and Claudio Menzi. Manfred Stohl remains in fourth but ran all day with a lack of turbo boost that could only be fixed by changing the turbo at the final 45 minute service as the 20 minute opportunities during the day are not long enough for a Group N car. He also suffered a major scare on SS14 when his steering wheel came loose as he turned into a corner. Having gone straight on he decided to stop and tighten the wheel. Simon Jean-Joseph had a string of problems today including tackling SS14 with a broken drive-shaft and no brakes. "At least we are here and so I am happy to laugh about our problems."

Tyre facts
It was clear that SS13 and SS14, a repeat of yesterday's SS5 and SS6 in reverse order, were always going to be a major test of tyres, especially with ground temperatures in the mid 40s. One of the highlights of the day was undoubtedly the charge of Colin McRae (Ford-Michelin) who set fastest time on the long SS14. The Scot will be thanking the performance of his Michelin ATS System since he completed this stage with two punctures (front and rear left). The Michelin Z10 was again used by the Michelin WRC partners throughout the day. Since the start of the rally, and up to SS15 (SS16 and 17 are still to be run), Michelin set 11 fastest times with Ford (8) and Mitsubishi (3).

The leading Pirelli drivers selected the XR pattern tyre for today's stages as the loose dusty layer had been swept from the stage surface during yesterday's runs. Without the 'cleaning' effect the stage times among the top crews were therefore very close and several drivers enjoyed stage wins, Subaru-Pirelli's Juha Kankkunen taking his on SS12 and Richard Burns on SS15. Pirelli-Mitsubishi drivers continue to hold the top four places in Group N.
Unofficial Results at the end of Leg 2
1 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 4:04:58,6
2 McRae Ford Focus WRC 4:06:02,6
3 Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 4:06:59,8
4 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 4:07:45,1
5 Martin Toyota Corolla WRC 4:08:49,8
6 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer 4:09:04,3
7 Kankkunen Subaru Impreza WRC 4:12:22,4
8 Loix Mitsubishi Carisma 4:13:33,4
9 Arai Subaru Impreza WRC 4:14:04,1
10 Trelles Mitsu Lancer Evo VI 4:20:30,6

Group N
1 Trelles Mitsu Lancer Evo VI 4:20:30,6
2 Pozzo Mitsu Lancer Evo VI 4:21:44,5
3 Stohl Mitsu Lancer Evo VI 4:31:17,5

Teams Cup
1 Arai Subaru Impreza WRC 4:14:04,1 Spike Subaru
Stage Winners
SS10 - Loix, SS11 - Makinen, SS12 - Kankkunen, SS13 - Loix, SS14 - McRae, SS15 - Burns, SS16 - Makinen, SS17 - Sainz
Leading Retirements
SS17 Toni Gardemeister (Seat Cordoba) - Accident
SS9 Frederic Dor (Subaru Impreza) - Fire
SS6 Marcus Gronholm (Peugeot 206 WRC) - electrical
SS7 Didier Auriol (Seat Cordoba WRC) - rear wheel bearing
SS2 Armin Schwarz (Skoda Octavia) - rolled
SS4 Luis Climent (Skoda Octavia) - no oil pressure
SS1 Bakhashab (Toyota Corolla) - gearbox
SS 10, Platres - Saittas 11.48km 1st Car: 09:01
1 Loix Mitsubishi Carisma 9:46,4
2 McRae Ford Focus WRC 9:47,2
3 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer 9:48,0
3 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 9:48,0
3 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 9:48,0
SS 11, Alassa - Agios Therapon 2 6.22km 1st Car: 09:39
1 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer 4:35,0
2 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 4:35,1
3 Kankkunen Subaru Impreza WRC 4:35,9
4 Loix Mitsubishi Carisma 4:36,3
5 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 4:36,3
SS 12, Prastio - Pachna 2 11.06km 1st Car: 10:12
1 Kankkunen Subaru Impreza WRC 6:36,8
2 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 6:37,3
3 Loix Mitsubishi Carisma 6:37,4
4 McRae Ford Focus WRC 6:37,8
5 Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 6:39,1
SS 13, Panagia - Selladi tou Stachtou 2 19.52km 1st Car: 13:10
1 Loix Mitsubishi Carisma 17:10,9
2 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 17:19,1
3 Kankkunen Subaru Impreza WRC 17:19,9
4 Martin Toyota Corolla WRC 17:23,7
5 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 17:27,3
SS 14, Mylikouri - Monashilakas 2 31.87km 1st Car: 13:55
1 McRae Ford Focus WRC 35:52,1
2 Kankkunen Subaru Impreza WRC 35:58,3
3 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer 36:09,8
4 Martin Toyota Corolla WRC 36:25,3
5 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 36:32,4
SS 15, Prastio - Pachna 3 11.06km 1st Car: 16:48
1 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 6:34,6
2 Loix Mitsubishi Carisma 6:35,8
3 McRae Ford Focus WRC 6:36,3
4 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer 6:36,9
5 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 6:37,1
SS 16, Agios Nikolaos - Foini 2 11.30km 1st Car: 17:31
1 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer 9:57,8
2 McRae Ford Focus WRC 9:58,7
3 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 10:02,1
4 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 10:03,7
5 Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 10:08,6
SS 17, Platres - Kato Amiantos 2 11.99km 1st Car: 18:04
1 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 9:45,5
2 McRae Ford Focus WRC 9:45,6
3 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer 9:47,2
4 Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 9:47,8
5 Loix Mitsubishi Carisma 9:52,2

End of Leg 1 Friday 8th September
Extract from Official FIA Press Release

Cyprus has certainly lived up to its reputation by offering a demanding challenge to the FIA World Rally Championship. Four factory drivers, including Championship leader Marcus Gronholm, have retired today as the crews tackled nine stages in the Troodos mountains and few have escaped without some problems. Despite this the competition has been intense and the Cypriot fans have enjoyed the superb spectacle of seeing the world's finest drivers battling for every second. Tomorrow's stages are based west of Limassol near the old port of Pafos. The first running of the longest stage of the rally (SS5) may be behind us but it is repeated tomorrow as SS14.

Ford Martini got off to a flying start to the Cyprus Rally, picking up where it left off in Greece earlier this year. However, early rally leader Carlos Sainz insisted after SS4, "These first few stages are not representative of the event and things start to get more serious now." The first few stages saw average speeds close to 90kph but this was quickly reduced on the longest stage of the event (the 31.97km SS5) to under 65kph. Team mate Colin McRae added, "The opening stages were quite kind. The in-car temperatures aren't so bad but there's a bit of breeze to help. It'll get hotter as the day goes on." Sainz was surprised to set the fastest time on SS6 as he eased off to try and preserve his tyres.

FIA World Rally Championship leader Marcus Gronholm took a cautious approach to the first few stages but still wanted the team to check out his differentials settings after finding the stages very slippery indeed. He was suffering from running first on the road but delighted at the performance of Peugeot's new semi-automatic gearshift system. François Delecour was setting fast times from the start, but his car was soon bearing the scars of battle at the right rear. On SS6 Gronholm was forced to retire with electrical failure and this has thrown the championship wide open once more.

Richard Burns completed SS4 with a suspected lack of turbo boost but the team was able to reassure the Englishman that it was nothing more serious than a throttle problem that could be easily fixed at service. Burns, like many others, completed SS6 with his tyres nearly bald but still inflated. "It's incredibly hot in there," he said. Kankkunen was handed a five minute penalty by the stewards for breaching the check-in procedure for the service park after the Troodos regroup. At the time he was lying seventh but the penalty dropped him to 17th instead. As the event headed into today's final three stages, Burns said, "Running first on the road is making it very hard to catch Carlos. There's no chance of tactics on this rally, you've just got to attack as hard as you dare." He attacked a bit too hard on SS8 and lost time with a spin.

Mitsubishi drivers Tommi Makinen and Freddy Loix got off to a reasonable start although the Finn's hopes of reaching first service higher than sixth were dashed when he punctured in SS2. Loix needed some adjustments to his front differential, but was otherwise happy with the progress being made. Makinen gained a 10 second penalty for late arrival at the start of SS6. "Risto [his co-driver] made a mistake on the road section that cost us a lot of time," he said. "Unfortunately it was tight to get to the start on time and we didn't quite manage it. There wasn't time to properly adjust the tyre pressures and so that cost us more time on the stage itself." Of the stages he added, "SS5 was OK but I didn't remember it so well from the recce. It felt slower and longer than I expected." On the sixth stage Freddy Loix rediscovered the form that made him hot property two seasons ago by setting third fastest time on the stage. "We found a good rhythm and I'm very happy with the time," said Loix. "We were helped when Didier pulled over and we had a six minute gap ahead of us. The stages really suit my driving but, after all that's happened in recent events it will take a lot to make me become over confident." Unfortunately his day also included a roll on the penultimate stage when his throttle jammed open.

Didier Auriol's brisk start was halted on SS4 when a left rear suspension problem forced him to slow. Team mate Toni Gardemeister was complaining that he had differential problems that were making it hard to turn into corners, a fairly major problem on an event as twisty as Cyprus. More serious was the steering failure that hit Auriol's car on SS5 and forced him to limp very slowly through both SS5 and SS6, losing a massive amount of time and dropping outside the top 20. He was in considerable pain in his arms and shoulders from having to muscle the car through the stages and co-driver Denis Giraudet said there were few other drivers who would have continued. The team fixed the steering at service, but on the road section to SS7 Auriol realised that the right rear wheel bearing had failed. With little chance of Auriol completing SS7-9 without losing the wheel, SEAT withdrew the Frenchman's Cordoba WRC E3 for safety reasons. Auriol said: "I have pain in every part of my body! I wanted to continue to do my best and try to finish this very tough rally, but it was not possible with a broken wheel bearing. I really can't believe what happened. However, Toni is going well and so hopefully we can still get a top five place."

Armin Schwarz was the first major casualty of the Cyprus Rally. Ironically the one top driver with any experience of the event crashed near the start of the second stage. "The new car has different performance characteristics to the old one," he explained. "I am still getting used to it so I was just a little too fast into the corner and the car rolled twice." At the end of SS4 Skoda was completely out of the event. Spanish driver Luis Climent damaged his sump and was forced to withdraw with no oil in the engine. It was a disappointing day for Skoda but there is better news for next season. Last night the team announced that it is to celebrate its centenary year by entering 12 of the 14 FIA World Rally Championship events in 2001, missing only New Zealand and Australia.

Other teams
Toshihiro Arai (Spike Subaru) was the early leader in the FIA Teams Cup contest from Frederic Dor (F Dor Rally Team) and Krzysztof Holowczyc (Wizja TF Turning Point) who rolled his Subaru in SS1 but continued. Series leader Abdullah Bakhashab (Toyota Team Saudi Arabia) failed to complete the opening stage. Simon Jean-Joseph completed the first stage with a leaking shock absorber (please note that the Martinique driver is competing in a Cilti Sport Impreza and not a Subaru Allstars example as was incorrectly stated yesterday). Group N saw Gustavo Trelles establish an early lead in the defence of his quadruple FIA World Championship crown ahead of Gabriel Pozzo, Manfred Stohl (the current series leader) and Claudio Menzi. Trelles believes that, like Makinen's works Group A car, he had the wrong gearing for Finland but he is now revelling in a rejuvenated performance.

Tyre facts
The work by Michelin on this type of rocky stages, which produced a 1-2 finish with Ford-Michelin on the punishing Acropolis in June, has continued to reap benefits on similar terrain today in Cyprus. Although wear rates have been as expected on Leg 1, Carlos Sainz (Ford- Michelin) has driven with his head to collect seven fastest stage times from 9. Michelin's partners have used the Michelin Z pattern throughout the day in the 10 compound/construction, which have proved an effective match for the wheel spin associated with today's twisty, slow speed, rocky stages.

Richard Burns (Subaru-Pirelli) set two fastest times during the day using Pirelli's PZero K-pattern tyre but believes he could have set more this afternoon had he not found himself first on the road following Gronholm's retirement. Crews have experienced a lot of tyre wear but few punctures, all of which have been effectively dealt with by Pirelli's EMI anti-deflation system. During the day Pirelli's main drivers used three different patterns; K, KC and XR depending on their road position. Mitsubishi-Pirelli drivers Trelles, Pozzo, Stohl and Menzi hold the top four places in Group N.
Unofficial Results at the end of Leg 1
1 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 2:23:35,6
2 Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 2:24:55,8
3 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 2:24:59,1
4 McRae Ford Focus WRC 2:25:17,9
5 Martin Toyota Corolla WRC 2:26:41,0
6 Gardemeister Seat Cordoba WRC 2:27:59,1
7 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer 2:28:00,2
8 Arai Subaru Impreza WRC 2:30:14,5
9 Kankkunen Subaru Impreza WRC 2:30:59,2
10 Jean-Joseph Subaru Impreza WRC 2:31:59,6

Group N
1 Trelles Mitsu Lancer Evo VI 2:32:37.3
2 Pozzo Mitsu Lancer Evo VI 2:33:41.1
3 Stohl Mitsu Lancer Evo VI 2:33:53.5

Teams Cup
1 Arai Subaru Impreza WRC 2:30:14,5 Spike Subaru
2 Dor Subaru Impreza WRC 2:58:16.2 F Dor Rally Team
Stage Winners
SS1 - Sainz, SS2 - Burns, SS3 - Sainz, SS4 - Sainz, SS5 - Burns, SS6 - Sainz, SS7 - Sainz, SS8 - Sainz, SS9 - Sainz
Leading Retirements
SS6 Marcus Gronholm (Peugeot 206 WRC) - electrical
SS7 Didier Auriol (Seat Cordoba WRC) - rear wheel bearing
SS2 Armin Schwarz (Skoda Octavia) - rolled
SS4 Luis Climent (Skoda Octavia) - no oil pressure
SS1 Bakhashab (Toyota Corolla) - gearbox
SS 1, Alassa - Agios Therapon 6.22km 1st Car: 08:33
1 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 4:34,7
2 McRae Ford Focus WRC 4:36,3
3 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 4:37,1
4 Auriol Seat Cordoba WRC 4:38,7
5 Loix Mitsubishi Carisma 4:39,9
SS 2, Prastio - Pachna 11.06km 1st Car: 09:06
1 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 6:40,0
2 McRae Ford Focus WRC 6:41,3
3 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 6:41,4
4 Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 6:43,3
5 Kankkunen Subaru Impreza WRC 6:44,2
SS 3, Agios Nikolaos - Foini 11.30km 1st Car: 09:49
1 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 10:04,0
2 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 10:06,6
3 Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 10:06,9
4 McRae Ford Focus WRC 10:08,6
5 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer 10:09,6
SS 4, Platres - Kato Amiantos 11.99km 1st Car: 10:22
1 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 9:54,0
2 McRae Ford Focus WRC 9:59,6
3 Gronholm Peugeot 206 WRC 10:00,7
4 Martin Toyota Corolla WRC 10:05,3
5 Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 10:06,4
SS 5, Mylikouri - Monashilakas 31.87km 1st Car: 12:17
1 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 36:05,6
2 Gronholm Peugeot 206 WRC 36:12,4
3 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 36:14,2
4 Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 36:14,3
5 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer 36:17,4
SS 6, Panagia - Selladi tou Stachtou 19.52km 1st Car: 13:10
1 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 17:33,8
2 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 17:36,1
3 Loix Mitsubishi Carisma 17:37,5
4 Kannkunen Subaru Impreza WRC 17:49,4
5 Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 17:51,0
SS 7, Kourdali - Assinou 14.92km 1st Car: 15:08
1 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 16:28,9
2 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer 16:38,2
3 Martin Toyota Corolla WRC 16:45,4
4 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 16:45,5
5 McRae Ford Focus WRC 16:45,7
SS 8, Assinou - Nikitari 25.39km 1st Car: 15:39
1 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 27:30,8
2 Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 27:44,1
3 McRae Ford Focus WRC 27:48,0
4 Kankkunen Subaru Impreza WRC 27:49,9
5 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 28:06,1
SS 9, Xerarkaka - Stavroulia 12.89km 1st Car: 16:57
1 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 14:33,8
2 Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 14:42,1
3 Gardmeister Seat Cordoba WRC 14:48,2
4 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 14:50,0
5 McRae Ford Focus WRC 14:55,1

Thursday 7th September
Extract from Official FIA Press Release

Cyprus offers a fresh new challenge to the crews contesting this year's FIA World Rally Championship. With the exception of 1996 Cyprus Rally winner Armin Schwarz (and co-driver Denis Giraudet) none of the leading crews have any relevant experience of the island, either through competition or by way of a sunshine holiday! The twisty and rocky roads are therefore an unknown quantity and everyone is entering the event with a spirit of adventure. Without a doubt we can expect a slow but tough rally where survival will be at least as crucial, if not more, than outright speed.
The FIA World Council admitted the Cyprus Rally into the World Rally Championship as a direct replacement for the China Rally. For the past fifteen years it has been run with the highest coefficient in the European Championship. Cyprus holds a joint position in European and Middle Eastern commercial affairs, and for the past three years held FIA Championship rallies qualifying for both regions. Cyprus is the 23rd different country to host an FIA World Rally Championship event.
Previous Cyprus Rallies have been rather slow, but fewer really slow stages will be included this year. Last year's winning average speed was 58kph. The total length of special stages of this year's Rally will be 348km. Tyre challenges concern the combined effect of constant wheelspin and long total stage distances between service parks - three times this is greater than 50km and only one spare wheel can be carried.

Special Rules
In previous years dust has been slow to clear after each passing car, so the regulations will allow top drivers to run the stages at three minute intervals, Also, because the tyre suppliers have little previous experience of the event, the usual rule for gravel rallies limiting teams to only two tread patterns has been waived.

Ford (63 points)
Ford's original three-car entry has been cut to two following Petter Solberg's defection to Subaru for next season. The Martini Racing squad now comprises Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz and these two go to the start with plenty of optimism following their 1-2 finish on the Acropolis Rally earlier this season. McRae said before the start, Reliability will play a big part and I doubt that the fastest car and driver will necessarily win. The event will be about pacing yourself, knowing when to attack and when to be cautious." Sainz added, "It's always interesting to come to a new event but the difficulty is that no one has pace notes and so we must make new notes for the whole rally." Over the past few days Ford has announced that Italian ace Piero Liatti is to drive a third Martini Racing Focus on the next two events in the Championship, Corsica and San Remo, in a bid to strengthen Ford's chances in the championship.

Subaru (60 points)
Subaru has just announced that its 2001 driver line-up will comprise Richard Burns and Juha Kankkunen along with two of the sport's most promising youngsters, Petter Solberg (Norway) and Markko Martin (Estonia). Although their precise programme has yet to be confirmed, team director David Lapworth said yesterday, "We expect to enter three cars on all events next year and four on some of them." Here in Cyprus Subaru will be lead by Burns and Kankkunen although its Allstars operation will include Simon Jean-Joseph who will replace Kankkunen in Corsica at the end of the month. To help cope with the heat in Cyprus, Subaru will be using a refrigeration unit to keep the cars cool during servicing. This system was being used during yesterday's shakedown. This is Kankkunen's 150th World Championship event. Another interesting statistic is that Robert Reid, Burns' co-driver, has 100 pages of pace notes for SS5 alone…

Peugeot (54 points)
Peugeot unofficially set the fastest times during yesterday's shakedown test although the road used was not as representative of the likely pace when the rally starts tomorrow. As in Finland, Francois Delecour's car is not fitted with three active differentials whereas FIA World Championship leader Marcus Gronholm has the latest version of the 206WRC. "There is a big change in driving the stages of the Cyprus Rally after the ones of the Rally Finland, said the Finn, "the speed here is sometimes half than at home!"

Mitsubishi (33 points)
There appears to still be some confusion in the Mitsubishi camp over why its cars failed to perform properly in Finland. FIA World Champion Tommi Makinen insists that it was a suspension problem while the team believes it was more likely incorrect gearing. Either way both need to be correct this weekend. Makinen agrees with his rivals that this will be a tough event. "I'm sure there will be many retirements - we will all be working very hard," he said. Team mate Freddy Loix has suffered a lot on some events by lack of experience and, while he is another Cyprus newcomer, he knows that his experience matches all of his main rivals. "It's not as rough as I expected but the stages are slow and twisty and there's not a lot of air getting into the car," he explained. At this afternoon's FIA press conference, chief engineer Bernard Lindauer confirmed that Mitsubishi has decided that its next car will be a World Rally Car and will probably make its debut next season.

Skoda (8 points)
Skoda comes to Cyprus with an evolution version of its Octavia WRC. None of the teams have brought completely new cars to this event and even the Skoda is a previously used car converted to the new model. Although, to the casual observer, the new car looks much the same as the old it is under the bonnet where the main changes lie. At the heart of the car is a new turbocharger that is expected to deliver more power while the electronics have been remapped to maximise this power and also improve the car's torque at the lower revs expected here. Cooling and aerodynamics are also areas where the car has made gains. If it all works first time out, then Skoda could be ideally placed for a good result as the team's lead driver, Armin Schwarz, is the only FIA World Rally Championship registered driver with any experience of this event. Schwarz drove a Toyota to victory here in his 1996 FIA European Championship winning season while Skoda has won the Formula 2 category here on the past two Cyprus rallies.

SEAT (7 points)
SEAT has also been making news over the past few days. The Spanish giant launched its third evolution Cordoba WRC in Finland but on Monday announced that it will conclude its World Rally Championship involvement at the end of this season. Although national programmes will continue, this will be the last season for the foreseeable future where we enjoy the company of the Spaniards and the SEAT Sport operation will now concentrate on developing performance road cars. Despite the news, SEAT remains committed to trying to win its first WRC event. A good result here could be crucial to the future plans for both Didier Auriol and Toni Gardemeister, both of whom will have to find new teams for 2001. "I want to drive a car that is capable of winning," said the Frenchman yesterday. "I don't mind if it's only for five or six events, but I'd prefer a full season of course. I'm too old to wait these days - that's fine for someone like Toni but not for me!"

Hyundai (5 points)
Hyundai is the only FIA World Championship team not present in Cyprus but the Accents will be back in never on Hyundai's schedule and so it was decided not to enter Cyprus when the Mediterranean event replaced China four months ago.

Other teams
FIA Teams Cup entries for this round include Frederic Dor (F Dor Rally Team), Toshihiro Arai (Spike Subaru) , Krzysztof Holowczyc (Wizja TV Turning Point) and Abdullah Backashab, who leads the championship with the Toyota Team Saudi Arabia . Holowczyc's car caught fire during a test session yesterday but is expected to start as planned. Hamed Al Wahaibi (Arab World Rally Team) after putting in his entry, ultimately announced his withdrawal. Subaru is entering an Allstars car for Simon Jean-Joseph while Subaru's 2001 addition, Markko Martin, drives a Toyota Corolla WRC. Manfred Stohl and Gustavo Trelles are the leading Group N entries with Stohl now 11 points clear of Trelles in the FIA series.

Tyre news
Because this event is so new and teams have had little time to test, the FIA has waived the rule demanding just two tread patterns for each team. Therefore the tyre companies, each expecting that this will be a rally where coping with punctures will be a crucial factor, have brought much greater numbers of tyres than usual. Michelin will rely on the Z and ZB pattern (with two compounds available in each) that took first and second place in Greece earlier this year while Pirelli has brought K, KC, KM and XR pattern tyres with up to three different compounds for each pattern. Last week Pirelli confirmed that it is to supply Ford's factory rally team as part of a long-term technical partnership that will start from the beginning of next season.

Weather Forecast
Daytime temperatures for the rally are expected to be 35-36 degrees with dry weather.
Stage Itinerary
Leg 1 - Friday 8th, September
SS1 08:33 Alassa - Agios Therapon 6.22km
SS2 09:06 Prastio - Pachna 11.06km
SS3 09:49 Agios Nikolaos - Foini 11.30km
SS4 10:22 Platres - Kato Amiantos 11.99km
SS5 12:17 Mylikouri - Monashilakas 31.87km
SS6 13:10 Panagia - Selladi tou Stachtou 19.52km
SS7 15:08 Kourdali - Assinou 14.92km
SS8 15:39 Assinou - Nikitari 25.39km
SS9 16:57 Xerarkaka - Stavroulia 12.89km
Total Leg 1 Competitive: 145.16km

Leg 2 - Saturday, 9th September
SS10 09:01 Platres - Saittas 11.48km
SS11 09:39 Alassa - Agios Therapon 2 6.22km
SS12 10:12 Prastio - Pachna 2 11.06km
SS13 13:10 Panagia - Selladi tou Stachtou 2 19.52km
SS14 13:55 Mylikouri - Monashilakas 2 31.87km
SS15 16:48 Prastio - Pachna 3 11.06km
SS16 17:31 Agios Nikolaos - Foini 2 11.30km
SS17 18:04 Platres - Kato Amiantos 2 11.99km
Total Leg 2 Competitive: 114.50km

Leg 3 - Sunday, 10th September
SS18 09:21 Vavatsinia - Mandra tou Kambiou 19.11km
SS19 10:04 Agios Onoufrios -Agioi Vavatsinias 18.10km
SS20 10:52 Lageia - Kalavasos 9.62km
SS21 13:47 Vavatsinia - Mandra tou Kambiou 2 19.11km
SS22 14:35 Machairas - Agioi Vavatsinias 13.19km
SS23 15:18 Lageia - Kalavasos 2 9.62km
Total Leg 3 Competitive: 88.75km
Total Rally Competitive: 348.41km
Entry List (top 30 out of 57 cars)
1 M.Gronholm/T.Rautiainen (FIN) Peugeot 206 WRC (A8)
2 R.Burns/R.Reid (GB) Subaru Impreza WRC 2000 (A8)
3 C.Mcrae/N.Grist (GB) Ford Racing Focus WRC (A8)
4 C.Sainz/L.Moya (E) Ford Racing Focus WRC (A8)
5 T.Makinen/R.Mannisenmaki (FIN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution (A8)
6 J.Kankkunen/J.Repo (FIN) Subaru Impreza WRC 2001 (A8)
7 D.Auriol/D.Giraudet (F) F Seat Cordoba WRC E3 (A8)
8 F.Loix/S.Smeets (B) B Mitsubishi Carisma Gt (A8)
9 T.Gardemeister/P.Lukander(FIN) Seat Cordoba WRC E3 (A8)
10 F.Delecour/D.Grataloup (F) Peugeot 206 WRC (A8)
11 A.Schwarz/M.Hiemer (D) Skoda Octavia WRC (A8)
12 L.Climent/A.Romani Alex (E) Skoda Octavia WRC (A8)
13 P.Solberg/P.Mills (N/GB) Ford Racing Focus WRC (A8)
14 M.Martin/M.Park (Est/GB) Toyota Corolla WRC (A8)
15 T.Arai/R.Freeman (J/GB) Subaru Impreza WRC 99 (A8)
16 K.Holowczyc/J.Fortin (Pl/B) Subaru Impreza WRC (A8)
17 A.Bakhashab/B.Willis (SA/GB) Toyota Corolla WRC (A8)
18 F.Dor/D.Breton Didier (FR) Subaru Impreza WRC 99 (A8)
19 S.Jean-Joseph/J.Boyere (FR) Subaru Impreza WRC (A8)
20 I.Papadimitriou/N.Petropoulos GR Subaru Impreza (A8)
21 M.Stohl/P.Muller (A) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI (N4)
22 G.Trelles/J.Del Buono (ROU/RA) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI (N4)
23 H.Al Wahaibi/T.Sircombe (OM/NZ) Withdrawn
24 C.Menzi/E.Galindo (RA) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI (N4)
25 G.Pozzo/F.Creto (RA) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI (N4)
26 A.Tsouloftas/A.Achilleos (CY) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI (A8)
27 C.Thomas/A.Christodoulides (CY) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI (A8)
28 A.Peratikos/H.Episkopou (CY) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution (N4)
29 D.Mavropoulos/G.Alexandrou (CY) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI (N4)
30 Bagheera/N.Stephan (RL) Toyota Corolla WRC (A8)

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