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Telstra Rally Australia
Round 13 of the FIA World Rally Championship
1-4th November 2001
Extract from Official FIA Press Release
[WRC] Telstra Rally Australia: Gronholm Wins
Sunday 4th Novemeber
Peugeot driver Marcus Grönholm has won the 13th round of the FIA World Rally Championship, the Telstra Rally Australia. The reigning world champion and navigator Timo Rautiainen controlled their pace through today's final four stages to claim victory on the Perth-based event for the second year in succession
But the results further down the points order have set up a thrilling climax to the 2001 series. Richard Burns finished second and with title rivals Colin McRae and Tommi Mäkinen only finishing fifth and sixth respectively, the three will go into the Rally GB later this month covered by just two points. Grönholm's win also lifted Peugeot to the top of the manufacturer's championship but Ford and Mitsubishi will both travel to Cardiff with chances of preventing the French team from winning the title two years in a row.
Technical: The 206 WRCs of Marcus Grönholm and Didier Auriol have both run without trouble today. Harri Rovanperä's car suffered a broken alternator belt 10km from the end of the penultimate stage, though, and the Finn reckoned he lost as much as 10 seconds in the closing kilometres as the engine kept cutting out. Gilles Panizzi's only scare was a spluttering engine as he tried to exit the watersplash on the closing televised stage.
Sporting: Marcus Grönholm concentrated on not making a mistake during today's four stages in the SOTICO forest complex and the reigning world champion duly notched up his second Rally Australia win in succession. Didier Auriol lost time on the day's first stage when he hit a rock and knocked a rear wheel out of line but the Frenchman was comfortable in third place and he claimed the final podium position. Harri Rovanperä came under pressure from Colin McRae in the later stages and a broken alternator belt in the penultimate stage didn't help. But the Swedish Rally winner held his ground to finish fourth and score three manufacturers' points for Peugeot. Gilles Panizzi, meanwhile, tried to gain more experience of left-foot braking on gravel. He dropped behind Carlos Sainz into ninth by the finish.
Quotes: Marcus Gronholm said: "I'm delighted! From yesterday morning I really knew we could win because after the team changed the steering the car felt so, so good and I knew I could push. We really won the rally yesterday because today's been about watching Richard's speed and making sure he doesn't get too close. It's obviously a good result for the team because it means we go to Britain at the top of the manufacturers series. I'll still be pushing hard there to make sure we win it again, so it'll be interesting to compare my speed to Colin, Tommi and Richard as they fight for the drivers' title.
Harri Rovanperä said: "I've been satisfied with my driving here, mainly because I thought the stages would be easy to remember on this rally and that hasn't been the case. Even the slightest lift of the throttle at a crest makes a difference when everyone's on such an attack. But we still scored good points for Peugeot, which was the important thing for us here.
Gilles Panizzi said: "I'm quite happy. I lost the good feeling yesterday but today I've been trying to do more left-foot braking and the confidence has come back. Some of my times have been quite good so while I know I need more experience and knowledge of the stages here, I'm quite satisfied.
Peugeot Sport Team Director Corrado Provera said: "All of our drivers have performed superbly. Didier has done everything we could have asked of him, Gilles has learnt a lot and our two Finnish stars Marcus and Harri have been exemplary. I'm very proud of what we've achieved and I'm looking forward to Britain.
Technical: The Impreza WRC2001s of Richard Burns and Petter Solberg have been reliable today. Solberg's only slight problem was a puncture five kilometres before the end of the day's first stage.
Sporting: Richard Burns pushed hard on today's first stage but he failed to make an impression on Marcus Grönholm and thereafter, the Briton settled for a second overall that means victory on the Rally GB will guarantee him the world title. Petter Solberg, meanwhile, started the day less than half a second behind Tommi Mäkinen. But the four times world champion pulled out nearly half a minute over the first couple of stages (Solberg suffered a puncture on the first) and thereafter, the young Norwegian settled for seventh and a manufacturers point for Subaru.
Quotes: Richard Burns said: "We really couldn't have done much more here - Marcus was very rapid yesterday - but six points is good. I think the world title will probably be between Colin and myself on the Rally GB because I think Tommi will probably struggle to keep up with us. It's going to be a good fight and I'm confident.
Petter Solberg said: "This has been a really good event for me. I've been very happy with my driving considering I still don't have that much experience here and we had to start quite high up the field on Friday. The stages today were really slippery but some of them were excellent fun. I knew that Tommi goes well in Bunnings so once he took some time off me in the first stage I realised it would be to catch him.
Technical: Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz had no major mechanical problems today, although Sainz nudged a bank on the second stage and bent his rear bumper so close to the exhaust that it started to burn.
Sporting: Colin McRae tried hard this morning to close the gap on Harri Rovanperä but while he was able to reduce the deficit (built up yesterday when the Scot had to run first on the road) he couldn't catch the Finn. The Scot had to settle for fifth and two potentially crucial world championship points. His only real problem today was one scare over a jump in the second stage. Carlos Sainz felt his tyre choice on today's opening stage was too soft and he nudged a bank on the second stage but the Spaniard still eased past Gilles Panizzi's Peugeot to finish eighth. He only has an outside chance of lifting the drivers' title in Rally GB, however - he must win, with the front three in the series either failing to score or scoring badly.
Quotes: Colin McRae said: "It hasn't been a particularly good event. I still don't really understand why the organisers did what they did on Friday evening with the starting nomination. It ruined my event, basically. We've pushed as hard as possible but in the end, fifth was all we could hope for. The Rally GB should be good and I'm confident. It'll probably be between Richard and myself but we can't rule out Tommi. He hasn't been that fast in Britain before but then, he hasn't needed to be.
Carlos Sainz said: "We came here knowing that only a victory would give us any realistic chance of the drivers' title and after the first day accident, we really knew it was game over. We've tried to fight back but we always knew that others had to hit problems for us to have any chance. It's a shame that we made our only big mistake of the year on this event, but we will still go to Britain and push hard for the manufacturers points.
Technical: Both Lancer Evolution WRCs have been generally reliable today, although Tommi Mäkinen did suffer from intercooler water spray coming onto his windscreen in the second stage. The Finn was much happier with his car''s handling, though, after softening the set-up at the front.
Sporting: Tommi Mäkinen has always gone well at the SOTICO (formerly Bunnings) forest complex that hosted today's stages, and the Finn wasted no time in putting a cushion between himself in sixth and Petter Solberg's Subaru. Revised suspension and anti-roll bar settings gave the four-times world champion increased confidence in his Lancer, and he pulled out more than 25 seconds over the young Norwegian, on the day's first two stages alone. He eventually finished sixth, scoring a valuable world championship point. Freddy Loix struggled with his road position today (caused by the road penalties he incurred fixing an electrical fault yesterday) and the Belgian couldn't make up enough time on Alister McRae to get his Lancer into the top ten.
Quotes: Tommi Mäkinen said: "Today has been quite positive. For starters, our car seems closer to the others on gravel than it was on asphalt. Then we changed the balance a bit and the rear-end grip is much more progressive now. I think we got it a bit wrong in the test because we stiffened the front to get good handling there but the rear end wasn't right. Now we can make new parts for Rally GB and because there's a bigger gap between this rally and Britain we have a chance to test. Can we improve enough to give me a chance of winning the title? That's the question!
Freddy Loix said: "It's been a new experience for me, running this high up the road in Australia, and I have to say it's not that nice because although I have a good feeling with the car, you also know that you're losing time at virtually every corner.
Technical: The Hyundai's Accent WRC2 of Alister McRae has performed reliably today, but Kenneth Eriksson's example lapsed onto two and a half cylinders for the last seven kilometres of the penultimate stage. The problem was cured for the final test, however.
Sporting: Kenneth Eriksson ran first on the road again today and while the veteran Swede tried hard, he wasn't able to haul his Accent into the top ten. Apart from an engine misfire in one stage this afternoon, his only real problem during the day was meeting a kangaroo in the middle of the road as he travelled through SS19 at 160kph. Alister McRae lost time with a spin in the same stage, but the Scot still managed to keep his Hyundai in the top ten.
Quotes: Kenneth Eriksson said: "This has been a very frustrating event for us but we knew it would be that way even before the first stage. Something has to be done about a system where drivers go into the very first stage of the rally knowing that they really haven't got a chance of scoring points or improving their positions.
Alister McRae said: "The spin this morning was annoying because I just got it wrong at a square left junction. Although I spun the car right round the dust was so bad that we needed to wait for it to clear before we could see where we were going! It hasn't been a great event for us and today's stages really cleaned more than any others in the rally so our disadvantage was worse. All I can do now is look forward to my last event for Hyundai in Britain.
Oman driver Hamed Al Wahaibi finished as the top privateer driver and claimed 10 FIA Teams Cup points in the process, but Danish driver Henrik Lundgaard had even more cause to celebrate. The reigning European Champion finished second in the category (14th overall), and that was more than enough for the Toyota driver to clinch the Teams Cup title ahead of Pasi Hagstrom.
Local driver Ed Ordynski triumphed in the Group N category for more standard machinery, ahead of Argentine driver Gabriel Pozzo and Belgian Francois Duval.
UNOFFICIAL FINAL RESULTS
1 Gronholm Peugeot 206 WRC 3:17:01,3
2 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 3:17:41,7
3 Auriol Peugeot 206 WRC 3:18:21,4
4 Rovanpera Peugeot 206 WRC 3:18:32,2
5 McRae Ford Focus WRC 3:18:41,3
6 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer WRC 3:20:04,0
7 Solberg Subaru Impreza WRC 3:20:04,0
8 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 3:22:00,5
9 Panizzi Peugeot 206 WRC 3:22:10,3
10 McRae Hyundai Accent WRC 3:24:33,0
1 Ordynski Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 3:34:27,2
2 Pozzo Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 3:34:48,5
3 Duval Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 3:35:19,0
1 Al Wahaibi Subaru Impreza WRC 3:25:54,7
2 Lungaard Toyota Corolla WRC 3:26:59,7
3 Hagstrom Toyota Corolla WRC 3:28:13,7
FIA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS (provisional standings after 13 of 14 rounds):
FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers
McRae (GB) 42
Mäkinen (FIN) 41
Burns (GB) 40
Sainz (E) 33
Rovanperä (FIN) 30
Grönholm (FIN) 26
Auriol (F) 23
Panizzi (F) 22
Delecour (F) 15
Solberg (N) 11
FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers:
FIA World Cup for Drivers of Production Cars:
Pozzo (RA) 71
Trelles (ROU) 36
Stohl (A) 23
Ligato (RA) 22
Blomqvist (S) 14
FIA Teams Cup (after 6 of 6 rounds)
Lundgaard (DK) 36
Hagstrom (FIN) 24
Al Wahaibi (OM) 16
Bakhashab (SA) 15
Papadimitriou (GR) 14
FIA Super 1600 Cup (after 5 of 6 rounds, this event not counting):
Loeb (F) 40
Dallavilla (I) 30
Basso (I) 10
Stenshorne (N) 8
Cols (B) 7
[WRC] Telstra Rally Austalia: End of Leg 2
Saturday, 03 November 2001
Reigning FIA World Rally Champion Marcus Grönholm has strengthened his lead on the penultimate round of this year's series, the Telstra Rally Australia, which continued today. The Peugeot driver and navigator Timo Rautiainen set two fastest times on this morning's opening pair of tests to more than treble their advantage over Richard Burns. They then consolidated their position with further fastest times this afternoon to arrive at this evening's Langley Park superspecial in the host city, Perth, with a 32.8s cushion.
The organisers' decision last night to not allow Colin McRae to nominate his start position for today (due to his late arrival at the selection process) affected the world championship leader badly, as he dropped nearly a minute to Grönholm and dropped to fifth. His Ford team moved François Delecour to the front of the field in an attempt to sweep some of the loose gravel off the road before the Scot. But the Frenchman crashed heavily in today's third stage, halting the test and hospitalising his navigator Daniel Grataloup with a shoulder injury.
Technical: Marcus Grönholm has been much happier with his car today, after Peugeot engineers changed all of the steering rack and power steering system at yesterday evening's final service. But team-mate Didier Auriol hit transmission problems on the day's second test, leaving the handling of his 206 snakelike on the faster sections. A change of all three differentials at the second service solved the problem. Harri Rovanperä was troubled by excessive tyre wear on his 206 on the opening pair of stages but his and Gilles Panizzi's cars ran without major problems.
Sporting: Marcus Grönholm set fastest times on all of today's stages to extend his overnight advantage. The Finn has been more satisfied with his car's handling after a complete change of the steering rack and power steering system last night. Didier Auriol was slowed slightly by wayward handling on today's second stage. The problem was traced to a transmission glitch and solved by changing all three differentials at second service. Auriol was thus able to hold onto his third position. Harri Rovanperä lost time on today's second stage after wearing out his front tyres on the first, longer test but the Finn remains in a comfortable fourth overall. Gilles Panizzi found today's tests more difficult than yesterday's but the asphalt expert still holds eighth.
Quotes: Marcus Gronholm said: "It's much better today. Now I have a car that is just as I want it to be - the steering is more precise again, like it should be. I've been pushing quite hard today but I'm still not taking any risks. Tomorrow's a short day but a lot can still happen. I'm quite confident, though.
Didier Auriol said: "The car was incredibly bad to drive when I had the transmission problem. It was virtually impossible to keep it in a straight line - it was snaking everywhere. But the mechanics did a good job and it's working fine again. I don't know if we can catch Richard tomorrow but we'll keep pushing at this level
Technical: The Impreza WRC2001s of Richard Burns and Petter Solberg have been reliable today. Toshihiro Arai's car had to retire at the end of the day's first stage, though, after the Japanese driver hit a tree and his engine overheated.
Sporting: Richard Burns has been able to pull further clear of Didier Auriol today, but the Briton hasn't managed to match Marcus Grönholm's pace and as a result, he arrived back in Perth this evening in a relatively lonely second place. Petter Solberg, meanwhile, needed only one stage to move clear of Tommi Mäkinen and into sixth overall but the pair have swapped seconds all day and the young Norwegian eventually finished the last forest test less than three seconds behind four-times world champion. Toshihiro Arai slid into a tree on this morning's first stage and although he and navigator Glenn Macneall reached the end of the test, their engine was too badly damaged to continue.
Quotes: Richard Burns said: "I thought I might lose time to Marcus on this morning's opening stage because I didn't think I drove very well but on the second one, I thought I'd do well and he did an incredible time. But we're not about to back off and give him an easier time. We have to keep pushing.
Petter Solberg said: "It's been going quite well. We had one mousse insert in the tyre break up this morning but it happened on the road section after the first stage. In some places where there are a few rocks I've been taking it cautiously because I don't want to risk getting a puncture, but when I push hard the feeling is very good indeed. All we can do is keep trying.
Toshihiro Arai said: "The accident was my fault. I made a silly mistake going into a slow corner. I just got caught out on some slippery gravel and slid into a small tree. The front of the car was damaged and it didn't look too bad but some oil pipes behind the radiator were broken and we had to stop just before the finish of the stage.
Technical: Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz had no major mechanical problems today, although Sainz suffered two mousse insert break-ups in his tyres this morning. François Delecour's car ran reliably too until he slid off on the day's third stage and retired.
Sporting: Fourth by yesterday evening, Colin McRae forfeited his right to choose an advantageous starting position for today when he was adjudged to have turned up too late for the nomination ceremony. So instead, the Scot was seeded at the front of the field and although Ford subsequently moved François Delecour to the front in an attempt to sweep some gravel clear, the 1995 world champion knew before he started this morning that he faced an uphill struggle. It proved as much, although afternoon rain limited the damage on the final three stages. He still dropped to fifth, however, over a minute and a half behind leader Marcus Grönholm. Carlos Sainz has spent today recovering after his problems yesterday - the Spaniard ended the leg in ninth overall. Delecour - who had to take a 13-minute penalty to move ahead of McRae on the road this morning - duly swept the road clear on the first couple of stages but on the third he clipped a tree on the inside of a corner and then hit a larger tree on the outside of the bend. Navigator Daniel Grataloup was sufficiently hurt for the stage to be stopped, although the Frenchman's condition was described as 'satisfactory' this evening. He has broken ribs, a broken right collar bone, a small break of the right shoulder blade and a small collapse of the right lung.
Quotes: Colin McRae said: "I don't understand why the organisers wouldn't let me choose my position on the road for today. I was where I was supposed to be when I was called up to make my nomination, but only then did I realise they wouldn't let me do it. All we can really hope now is to hang onto fifth because even if we manage that, we're too far behind the guys in front and they've now got road position advantage over us anyway. I feel very hard done by.
François Delecour said: "I was pushing hard - maybe too hard because I was running first on the road - and I clipped a tree on the inside and it threw me across the road into another tree. It was a fifth gear place but quite narrow so we broke the tree on the outside of the corner. I stopped Colin as soon as possible because Daniel (Grataloup) was hurt and Colin and Nicky tried to help. It's a sad way to end my time at Ford.
Technical: Tommi Mäkinen suffered brake problems in this morning's opening, long stage. Freddy Loix, meanwhile, was 13 minutes late entering SS14 after a broken connection on the battery meant his Lancer wouldn't restart at the time control. He was penalised 2m 10s of road penalties as a result.
Sporting: Tommi Mäkinen lost time with his brake problems this morning and he also stalled and spun in SS15 but the Finn managed to reclaim sixth position from Petter Solberg on the last forest test. The four-times world champion reports far less aggravation from his back injury than yesterday, and his stand-in navigator Timo Hantunen has continued to adapt to his new role with increasing confidence. Freddy Loix kept his Lancer in the top ten until a broken electrical connection meant he was late into SS14, costing him 2m 10s of road penalties.
Quotes: Tommi Mäkinen said: "It's been not too bad today - my back hasn't hurt very much because the stages have been quite smooth and flowing. The spin really puzzled me - under heavy braking, the engine just stalled. Sometimes that happens if the wheels lock up but they didn't, so I can't understand it. As for tomorrow, I really want to push to get a point from this rally.
Freddy Loix said: "We arrived at SS14 very early so I switched off the engine. But when I went to turn it back on again it simply wouldn't start. I could smell something that I knew was the battery so I prodded the connections with a stick and Sven (Smeets) tried to start the engine. Suddenly, it worked. I'm disappointed, though, because we were making progress.
Technical: The Hyundai's Accent WRC2s of Alister McRae and Kenneth Eriksson have both performed reliably today.
Sporting: Again running near the front of the field, Alister McRae and Kenneth Eriksson have had to fight to keep their cars near the top ten. But the Scot benefited from Freddy Loix's problems to achieve exactly that, holding 10th overall as the crews entered the Langley Park superspecial. Eriksson has had a troublefree day but the Swede struggled again with loose gravel on most of the stages and he arrived back in Perth in 12th.
Quotes: Kenneth Eriksson said: "There has to be a better way of sorting out the running order. Use a brush on the stage beforehand or run this rally in winter when it's more damp and the roads don't have as much loose. We knew yesterday morning when we started the first stage that unless there were a lot of retirements, we didn't stand a chance and that's what's happening.
Alister McRae said: "The stages this afternoon were damp but while it made a difference, it wasn't big enough. If you look at how Colin's times compare to Marcus when they were so close yesterday, then you can see what a disadvantage we've had all rally.
Oman driver Hamed Al Wahaibi continues to be the top privateer driver. The FIA Teams Cup entrant holds 13th in his Subaru, ahead of European champion Henrik Lundgaard.
In the Group N class for more standard cars, local driver Ed Ordynski continues to hold the lead, ahead of newly-crowned category champion Gabriel Pozzo.
UNOFFICIAL LEG 2 RESULTS
1 Gronholm Peugeot 206 WRC 2:20:01,8
2 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 2:20:36,1
3 Auriol Peugeot 206 WRC 2:20:56,0
4 Rovanpera Peugeot 206 WRC 2:21:18,0
5 McRae Ford Focus WRC 2:21:46,8
6 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer WRC 2:22:48,5
7 Solberg Subaru Impreza WRC 2:22:48,9
8 Panizzi Peugeot 206 WRC 2:23:35,5
9 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 2:24:19,9
10 McRae Hyundai Accent WRC 2:25:32,0
1 Ordynski Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 2:31:41,4
3 Pozzo Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 2:32:24,3
2 Kangas Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 2:32:28,2
1 Al Wahaibi Subaru Impreza WRC 2:26:16,2
2 Lungaard Toyota Corolla WRC 2:26:55,7
3 Hagstrom Toyota Corolla WRC 2:28:05,9
[WRC] Telstra Rally Austalia: End of Leg 1
2nd November 2001
Reigning FIA World Rally Champion Marcus Grönholm has charged into the lead of the penultimate round of this year's series, the Telstra Rally Australia, which started this morning. The Peugeot driver arrived at this evening's Langley Park superspecial with a narrow lead over Richard Burns, Didier Auriol and Colin McRae after a close day's competition under baking hot sunshine.
The notoriously slippery forests near the host city of Perth again penalised the early crews, but since new rules allowed the drivers to choose their starting position based on the championship standings, title hopefuls McRae and Burns were able to capitalise on roads swept clean by others. Joint series leader Tommi Mäkinen wasn't so fortunate - still suffering back pains after his accident in Corsica last month, the Finn could only manage sixth overall by the end of the last forest test.
Technical: The four 206 WRCs have hit no major mechanical problems today, although both Harri Rovanperä and Marcus Grönholm felt that their gear ratios needed to be shorter to compensate for the deep, soft gravel. Grönholm was also troubled by front tracking which seemed to go out of line without him having hit anything.
Sporting: Marcus Grönholm set fastest times on today's first two stages to move into the lead and the reigning world champion has swapped seconds with Colin McRae, Richard Burns and Didier Auriol all day. A late push this afternoon meant that the Finn arrived at the Langley Park superspecial holding a narrow lead, but he was unhappy with front tracking that kept going out of line and leaving his steering feeling vague. Auriol occupied third by the end of the last forest stage after a troublefree day, meanwhile. Harri Rovanperä was less than satisfied with his 206's gear ratios but he still held fifth by Langley Park, while the fourth 206 WRC driver Gilles Panizzi was pleased to hold a top ten position - eighth - by the end of the day.
Quotes: Marcus Gronholm said: "I'm quite surprised our times are so good - firstly, because we're running ahead of all of our main rivals on the road, and secondly, because I'm not too happy with the car. It's not a serious problem but on virtually every stage today I got to the end and I knew it wasn't perfect. Something just isn't right in the steering. But if we can fix it, the situation looks good for us
Harri Rovanperä said: "Some of the stages today were hard for me because it was my first time over them. Even though we have good pacenotes you still have to think twice at some jumps or blind corners. But we have to say the rally's started well for us.
Didier Auriol said: "We could see a clean line on many of the stages so we tried to take advantage of that and it worked. It's going well but there's still a long way to go.
Technical: The Impreza WRC2001s of Richard Burns, Petter Solberg and Toshihiro Arai have been generally reliable, although Burns was troubled by the car locking up and stalling momentarily during this morning's first loop of stages. Both he and Solberg have suffered a number of break-ups in the mousse anti-puncture inserts in their tyres, however.
Sporting: Richard Burns charged during today's middle loop of stages to move into a podium placing, and the Briton arrived at Langley Park this evening in second overall. Petter Solberg was pleased with how well he'd coped with running relatively high up the order, and the young Norwegian - troubled, like Burns, with mousse break-ups in his tyres - ended the last forest test in seventh. Toshihiro Arai scooped gravel into his Impreza's radiator this morning but otherwise the Japanese driver has adopted a cautious approach. He arrived back in Perth well outside the top ten, however.
Quotes: Richard Burns said: "The very best position on the road would be as far back as possible, so I'm reasonably optimistic about tomorrow. We haven't had any really serious problems today and we've made good use of our road position. The Peugeots look quick but I think it'll be a good fight.
Petter Solberg said: "I'm quite satisfied really. We knew it would be hard today with our high starting position but we've tried to minimise the time loss and we've done pretty well. I'm looking forward to tomorrow
Toshihiro Arai said: "The roads have been very slippery for us because we've been the third car on the stages. After my early accident in Corsica last month I really want to get to the finish so I've been very cautious - maybe too cautious - in some places.
Technical: Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz had no major mechanical problems today, but the Spaniard badly damaged the right-rear corner of his Ford Focus in SS6. He received road penalties after he had to stop and put out a small fire on his way to service. Francois Delecour complained of a misfire this morning, then also had to extinguish flames on his Focus after he hit a tree on the same stage as his team-mate. He suffered a loss of power steering on the day's last forest stage, too.
Sporting: Colin McRae's decision to start at the back of the seeded crews paid off today. The Scot was slightly alarmed at the pace of the Peugeots this morning but he fought back this afternoon, using his better grip to move ahead of Marcus Grönholm and into the lead. He dropped back again on the last few stages, though, since he elected to take no chances on the rutted roads that had already been used once this morning. He ended the forest stages in fourth. Team-mate Carlos Sainz held a top six placing for much of the day but in SS6, the Spaniard hit a small post and damaged his right rear suspension. The right-rear tyre caught fire on the road section to service, so the double world champion removed the wheel completely after extinguishing the flames. He picked up road penalties for late arrival, but continued and arrived back in Perth this evening in 15th place. Francois Delecour was troubled by a misfire this morning, but he clipped a small tree in the same stage that caught out Sainz and the resulting damage set fire to some extra oil containers in the car. The Frenchman was able to continue, however.
Quotes: Colin McRae said: "I think the Peugeots seem to suit the narrower, more rutted roads because when the stages got a bit more flowing we've become more competitive. It's obviously going pretty well at the minute but as we've seen with Carlos, it's easy to get caught out on these stages.
Carlos Sainz said: "I didn't think the post was too bad but it knocked the wheel out of line and when it rubbed on the bodywork it went on fire. I knew I had to take it off the car but it was hard to do that with the fire.
Technical: Tommi Mäkinen and Freddy Loix have had no serious mechanical problems with their Lancer Evolution WRCs on the car's first full day of gravel world championship competition.
Sporting: Tommi Mäkinen found today's stages painful thanks to a back injury, a legacy of his big accident in Corsica last month. The four-times world champion had to back off over several jumps rather than risk aggravating the problem further, and he was in discussions with the team doctor at every service halt. His cause wasn't helped further by replacement co-driver Timo Hantunen having to adapt quickly to Mäkinen's pacenote system. On more than one occasion the pair became lost, and Mäkinen had to back off on a couple of long straights simply because he didn't know what was coming next. Nevertheless, Mäkinen arrived at the Langley Park stage in Perth this evening in sixth overall. Team-mate Freddy Loix struggled with his road position but the Belgian held ninth after the last forest stage.
Quotes: Tommi Mäkinen said: "My back is very sore at times but I still want to carry on and we'll see what happens. The new car feels quite good on gravel but it's also very big - if we slide into a corner our wheels go beyond everyone else's tracks and we get into the deep gravel.
Freddy Loix said: "I have to be quite pleased, because I didn't have much testing before this event and even though we clearly still have work to do, the times aren't bad considering how high up the field I'm running.
Technical: The Hyundai's Accent WRC2 of Alister McRae has performed reliably today, but team-mate Kenneth Eriksson wasn't so fortunate. The Swede lost time on today's first stage when navigator Staffan Parmander's side window fell down and allowed dust into the cockpit.
Sporting: Kenneth Eriksson lost time on today's first stage when a faulty window allowed dust into the cockpit, but the Swede's problems were more fundamental in any case. Running first on the road, he's had to sweep loose gravel over the harder surface on all of the day's eight forest tests and as a result, he was unable to get near the top ten positions. His team-mate Alister McRae was the very next car on the stages, so he didn't benefit from greatly improved road conditions either and the Scot arrived back in Perth this evening in 11th.
Quotes: Kenneth Eriksson said: "I'm quite happy with my driving here in general and the tyres we're using are working well for our road conditions, but there's really nothing we can do about the situation. With the way nominations work now it means that we'll probably be high up the order again tomorrow, which just makes things worse.
Alister McRae said: "It's obviously quite frustrating because even though you try your best, you know that the guys behind are almost certainly going to go quicker and they'll be able to choose whether or not to have the same situation again tomorrow.
Kiwi driver 'Possum' Bourne had been expected to shine here but he lost time today's fourth stage when he had to stop and change a wheel. The top privateer driver is FIA Teams Cup entrant Hamed Al Wahaibi in 13th, ahead of local Toyota driver Neal Bates.
In the Group N category for more standard machinery, Manfred Stohl grabbed the initial class lead but then lost it this afternoon when he broke a driveshaft. Local driver Ed Ordysnki was thus promoted to the lead although he came under pressure from Cody Crocker until the Subaru driver hit clutch problems.
UNOFFICIAL LEG 1 RESULTS
1 Gronholm Peugeot 206 WRC 1:25:56,3
2 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 1:25:59,9
3 Auriol Peugeot 206 WRC 1:26:00,1
4 McRae Ford Focus WRC 1:26:01,6
5 Rovanpera Peugeot 206 WRC 1:26:12,2
6 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer WRC 1:27:14,3
7 Solberg Subaru Impreza WRC 1:27:20,1
8 Panizzi Peugeot 206 WRC 1:27:27,0
9 Loix Mitsubishi Lancer WRC 1:28:11,6
10 Delecour Ford Focus WRC 1:28:21,5
1 Ordynski Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 1:32:36,9
2 Kangas Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 1:33:18,7
3 Pozzo Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 1:33:29,6
1 Al Wahaibi Subaru Impreza WRC 1:29:30,0
2 Lungaard Toyota Corolla WRC 1:30:03,6
3 Hagstrom Toyota Corolla WRC 1:30:37,1
[WRC] Telstra Rally Austalia: Welcome
1st November 2001
The scrap for honours in the FIA World Rally Championship is set to intensify further on the penultimate round, the Telstra Rally Australia, which started in Perth this evening. Six drivers will start the event with at least a mathematical chance of lifting the title, while four makes still have the possibility of winning the manufacturers' series.
Ford's Colin McRae and Mitsubishi driver Tommi Mäkinen share the lead in the drivers championship, but neither is likely to be the first car on the notoriously slippery forest stages near the host city tomorrow morning. Like many previous events this season, position in the running order is expected to play a crucial role, since the Australian roads feature a tricky ball-bearing like surface that gets swept clean by every passing car. So to prevent the overnight leaders from being hampered by this the following day, seeded crews will be allowed to choose their position on the road. For tomorrow's opening leg, the championship front-runners will be able to nominate their preferred place first and they are likely to opt for positions outside the top ten.
FORD (1st - 83 points)
Technical: Ford has introduced no major technical changes on the Ford Focus RS WRC01s for this event.
Sporting: Carlos Sainz and Colin McRae are nominated for manufacturers' points, with François Delecour eligible for drivers' points only. The event marks Sainz's 150th start at world championship level, and McRae's navigator Nicky Grist celebrates his 40th birthday today. Ford recently confirmed that both Sainz and McRae will stay in 2002, while also revealing that Estonian Markko Martin will drive the third Focus WRC on all 14 rounds. Australia will be Delecour's last event for the team - Mark Higgins will replace him in the squad for the next round in Great Britain.
Quotes: Colin McRae said: "We know that we can win the title here but before that happens, there are a lot of quick drivers who'll be pushing very hard that we have to beat. We're still in a good position in the championship with Tommi, since we have a small points advantage, but the plan here still has to be to push as hard as possible from the start and see where that gets us.
Carlos Sainz said: "We need to score points for Ford and make sure that we're ahead of Peugeot to increase the team's lead in the manufacturers' championship, but I still have a chance of the drivers' title too and I'd like to improve my position in that. I enjoy this event even though the roads are quite narrow and the trees are very close!
PEUGEOT (2nd- 76 points)
Technical: Peugeot enters four official cars in Australia. All are fitted with three electronically controlled 'active' differentials, but Didier Auriol's example has a six-speed gearbox (the French driver's preferred option) instead of the more widely-used five-speed unit.
Sporting: Peugeot has nominated its two Finnish drivers, Marcus Grönholm and Harri Rovanperä, for manufacturers' points in Australia. 1994 world champion Didier Auriol will therefore be nominated for drivers' points only. The French team is also running a fourth car for its regular asphalt expert Gilles Panizzi as he continues to build up experience of loose-surface rallies.
Quotes: Marcus Gronholm said: "I think we have quite a good chance here. Of course, our poor championship position means that we will struggle a bit with the loose gravel on the road because we'll have to start higher up the running order. But I had a really good feeling with the car here during our test - it was perfect.
Harri Rovanperä said: "The car was good in the testing and I quite like the stages here, so all we can do is try. I think the championship leader will just pick the last possible road position, so the championship order will basically be reversed on the first day. That would put me about fourth or fifth from the end which wouldn't be too bad.
MITSUBISHI (3rd - 67 points)
Technical: The Lancer Evolution WRC makes its debut on gravel in Australia, but Mitsubishi has had precious little time to set the car up for loose surfaces. Ralliart managed two tests in Europe before a five-day test in Australia. Tommi Mäkinen's Lancer is a brand new car, but this had been planned before his accident in Corsica anyway.
Sporting: Tommi Mäkinen and Freddy Loix are both nominated for manufacturers' points. Mäkinen is being navigated this weekend by Timo Hantunen, a veteran Finnish co-driver who accompanied the four times world champion much earlier in his career. Hantunen is substituting for Risto Mannisenmaki, who recently underwent a back operation after the pair's accident in Corsica and is not expected to return to the WRC until January at the earliest. Mitsubishi recently confirmed that François Delecour and Alister McRae will be its nominated drivers in 2002.
Quotes: Tommi Mäkinen said: "Risto is making a good, quick recovery even though his operation usually needs two months to completely clear. Fortunately I know Timo from before and his style is very similar to Risto's, so I don't think having a different navigator will make a big difference to our performance. I'm obviously still thinking about our win here last year before we were excluded - the aim is to do the same result, but this time the car is homologated
Freddy Loix said: "I only had one day of testing here for this rally and while we were able to do some basic work on the suspension and so forth, the fine-tuning of the differentials and transmission takes much longer and we just haven't had a chance to do that. It's going to be a tough rally for me with so little experience of this car on the loose.
SUBARU (4th- 55 points)
Technical: Subaru has introduced no major technical changes to its gravel-spec Imprezas since New Zealand. Petter Solberg has a brand new car at his disposal, however.
Sporting: Richard Burns and Petter Solberg are nominated for manufacturers' points, leaving Toshihiro Arai (navigated by local co-driver Glenn Macneall) eligible for drivers' points only. The Japanese driver didn't get off to a good start at yesterday's pre-event shakedown - a small accident left his mechanics with work to do before the start.
Quotes: Richard Burns said: "If you look at the last two years then I've got the best record on the final two events of the top three guys in the championship right now, so I think we can have some confidence of a title push. I wouldn't say that I'm any better off than Colin or Tommi just because I can't really think about 'settling' for a points finish. The bottom line is that they've got six points more than me, which I'd much rather have! I don't think it'll be easy for them here either, though.
Petter Solberg said: "It's going to be a tricky rally. The big key for me is probably the opening day - if we can get through that, stay out of trouble and then see where we are then maybe we can push. But the surface is so slippery here that you have to keep total concentration at all times.
SKODA (5th - 15 points)
Skoda is missing Rally Australia and will return to the world championship for its concluding round in Great Britain at the end of next month.
HYUNDAI (6th - 13 points)
Technical: Hyundai's Accent WRC2s will run to the same specification as in New Zealand. The team scrapped plans for a pre-event test in Australia when it became clear that swept-clean roads would not prepare them for running first on the road.
Sporting: Swedish driver Kenneth Eriksson returns to his regular Accent for this event, accompanying Alister McRae in Hyundai's nominations for manufacturers' points. McRae and navigator David Senior were lucky to escape injury in a bad accident during the pre-event reconnaissance, but both will take the start as planned.
Quotes: Kenneth Eriksson said: "I love this event and we did well here last year, but if we're running high up the field we'll have to sweep the loose gravel clear for the guys behind. The system is always going to be unfair to somebody and here it looks like it's going to be us. But we'll still be trying - it's great to get back behind the wheel after a while away.
Alister McRae said: "I think we'll probably be hampered by the seeding system, because it means we're more likely to be running first or second on the road on the opening day and it'll be hard to recover from the time we're bound to lose there. It's a shame really because the car was really good here last year and it's improved a lot since then
After the debut win for the Xsara WRC in Corsica two weeks ago, Citroen is absent in Australia. The French manufacturer is currently deciding which events to tackle as part of its limited championship programme in 2002, and which drivers will form its team.
Outside of the manufacturer entries, two quick local World Rally Car drivers - Kiwi 'Possum' Bourne and Australian Neal Bates - can be expected to set respectable times in a Subaru Impreza and Toyota Corolla respectively. Australia is also the final round of the FIA Teams Cup, and reigning European champion Henrik Lundgaard holds a commanding 10-point advantage over fellow Toyota driver Pasi Hagstrom. The Finn could be expected to excel on the slippery Australian stages, however, and if he wins and Lundgaard fails to score then Hagstrom will be champion on a tie decider.
The Group N world championship for drivers of more standard vehicles has already been won by Argentine driver Gabriel Pozzo. If he's to celebrate his success with a class win in Australia he'll have to defeat not only his regular rivals Manfred Stohl and Marcos Ligato but also locals Cody Crocker and Ed Ordynksi, and Finns Juha Kangas and Marko Ipatti. Stohl faces a race against time to make the start, however, after he rolled at the pre-event shakedown yesterday.
Tyre suppliers Michelin and Pirelli provide a number of options for their teams. Michelin (Mitsubishi, Hyundai and Peugeot) offers the Z for clear, hard ground, the ZA for damp or slightly loose surfaces and the ZE for soft, damp or loose gravel roads. Pirelli (Ford and Subaru) brings two types of tyre - the K for hard and compact surfaces and the KM for soft, loose gravel - although both options can be cut by hand in cases of extremely deep or soft soil.
Only one stage was held tonight - a super special. Full Leg One results will be updated tomorrow.
SS 1, Langley Park Super Special Stage 2.20km
1 Sainz Ford Focus WRC 1:30,7
1 Auriol Peugeot 206 WRC 1:30,7
3 Delecour Ford Focus RS WRC 1:31,3
4 Hagstrom Toyota Corolla WRC 1:31,5
5 Gronholm Peugeot 206 WRC 1:31,8
Leg 1 - Thursday, 1st November
SS1 18:42 Langley Park Super 1 2.20km
Leg 1, cont - Friday, 2nd November
SS2 10:27 Helena North 1 24.14km
SS3 10:53 Helena South 1 18.43km
SS4 12:00 Kev's 9.56km
SS5 12:39 Beraking 26.46km
SS6 13:27 Flynns 19.98km
SS7 15:32 Helena North 2 24.14km
SS8 15:58 Helena South 2 18.43km
SS9 16:23 Atkins 4.42km
SS10 19:30 Langley Park Super 2 2.20km
Leg 2 - Saturday, 3rd November
SS11 08:36 Stirling East 35.48km
SS12 09:23 Brunswick 16.63km
SS13 11:23 Wellington Dam 45.42km
SS14 14:07 Harvey Weir 6.97km
SS15 14:28 Stirling West 15.89km
SS16 16:14 Murray Pines 18.53km
SS17 19:45 Langley Park Super 3 2.20km
Leg 3 - Sunday, 4th November
SS18 07:59 Bannister West 34.57km
SS19 09:07 Bannister North 36.84km
SS20 10:32 Bannister South 28.65km
SS21 12:35 TV Stage 5.63km