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33rd TAP Rally of Portugal 2000
Round 4 of the FIA World Rally Championship 16-19 March 2000
End of Leg 3, Final Report
FIA Press Release
Sunday 19 March 2000
Congratulations to Subaru and Richard Burns! The English driver won every stage today to catch and pass overnight leader Marcus Gronholm in a tense finale to the Portugal Rally. The final stage, shown live on Portuguese television, saw the two rivals fighting hard in the dust with Burns extending his narrow advantage over the final 11kms to win the event and move into the lead of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Subaru debuted its new Impreza WRC2000 here in Portugal and came away with a magnificent victory for Richard Burns. "This was a great team effort," he said at the finish line of the final stage. "Everyone has worked so hard for this and it's the proper reward for that effort. The new car has made all the difference and we've still got more to come from it. We're probably only 80% there yet." Burns has become the first English driver ever to lead the World Rally Championship and has ended Tommi Makinen's run at the head of the series that he has held since Australia 1998. Subaru has extended its lead at the head of the Manufacturers' Championship.

Marcus Gronholm gave maximum effort to hold off Richard Burns on the final stage, the Peugeot 206WRC being flung through the stage at some wild angles as the Finn tried desperately to steal the victory from the English driver at the end. Unfortunately it was not enough and Gronholm, the Swedish Rally winner, had to settle for second. "This was the best battle of my career," he said. "Just wait till we get the new engine - then we'll reverse this result!" The result moves him to a share of second spot in the Championship with Tommi Makinen. Francois Delecour finished fifth and the combined result for Peugeot moves the team to equal third with Ford after four rounds.

After a broken driveshaft forced Carlos Sainz to slow on the final stage last night, the Spaniard knew that there was little chance to improve on third place today despite competing on stages close to the Spanish border and therefore in front of many of his home supporters. It was clear that he had little choice but to settle for third place and four points. Last night Petter Solberg was forced to retire on the penultimate stage with clutch failure. "This was my first pure gravel event in the Focus," said Sainz. "It took time to adapt but the fact that I was able to set fastest times shows we're at a good level. Of course I'm now looking forward to my home event in 10 days' time!"

Tommi Makinen's first day retirement cost him the Championship lead and put the full weight of responsibility on the shoulders of Freddy Loix. The Belgian responded by finishing seventh, just outside the Drivers' points standings but scoring two valuable points for Mitsubishi in the Manufacturers' competition. In Group N Mitsubishi virtually swept the board with 13 of the top 15 places going to their cars.

Skoda maintained its 100% scoring record from this year's championship but Armin Schwarz admitted it hadn't been easy. "I had to push quite hard to maintain my position today but the car is reliable and we're looking forward to getting more power, hopefully in Greece." Luis Climent was also delighted to reach the finish. "This is one of the toughest rounds of the Championship, he said. "I'm now looking forward to Catalunya as it's my home event and we've already had a really good asphalt test.

SEAT, along with Peugeot was the only other team to get all three of its top cars through to the finish of an incredibly demanding Portugal Rally. Unfortunately a run of mechanical problems kept Didier Auriol and Toni Gardemeister down the leaderboard and, with just three stages today, the SEATs were unable to regain the time lost. Team director Jaime Puig admitted: This wasn't the result we expected. Things began well but the problems relegated us to unusual positions. We have to accept that sometimes a great deal of effort doesn't always give us the prize we are looking for. Our home event in Catalunya is in just 10 days and we have a lot of work to do in a short time."

Other Teams
Harri Rovanpera's fourth place for the Grifone team was another superb result in the Toyota. "I'm really pleased, the car has been fantastic," he enthused at the finish. "I think I've shown that I still deserve a top drive." Markko Martin was another unregistered driver among the official teams, also in a Toyota. Frederic Dor was the only FIA Teams Cup finisher while Michael Guest ended the event as first car home in the 'Formula 2' category.
Provisional Results after Leg 3, Final
1 Burns Subaru Impreza 4:34:00,0
2 Gronholm Peugeot 206 4:34:06,5
3 Sainz Ford Focus 4:36:09,2
4 Rovanpera Toyota Corolla 4:37:18,2
5 Delecour Peugeot 206 4:38:06,3
6 Martin Toyota Corolla 4:40:11,6
7 Loix Mitsu Lancer 4:41:28,9
8 Schwarz Skoda Octavia 4:41:47,4
9 Gardemeister Seat Cordoba 4:42:24,2
10 Auriol Seat Cordoba 4:46:38,0

Group N
1 Campos Mitus Lancer 4:58:02,5
2 Stohl Mitsu Lancer 5:01:47,9
3 Ferreyros Mitsu Lancer 5:06:49,5

1 Guest Hyundai Coupe 5:29:32,9

Teams Cup
1 Dor Subaru Impreza 5:07:14,4
FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers (unofficial positions after 4 of 14 rounds):
Burns (GB) 22
Makinen (FIN) 16
Gronholm (FIN) 16
Sainz (E) 13
Kankkunen (FIN) 11
Auriol (F) 4
McRae (GB) 4

FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers (unofficial positions after 4 of 14 rounds):
Subaru 35
Mitsubishi 20
Peugeot 17
Ford 17
Skoda 5
Hyundai 0

FIA Cup for Drivers of Production Cars (unofficial positions after 14 of 14 rounds):
Stohl (A) 23
Menzi (I) 10
Paasonen (FIN) 10
Campos (P) 10
Sanches (RA) 6
Trelles (ROU) 6
Pykalisto (FIN) 6

FIA Teams' Cup (unofficial positions after 4 of 14 rounds):
Turning Point Rally Team 10
Spike Rally Team 10
F.Dor Rally Team 10

March 31-April 2, 2000 : Rallye Catalunya-Costa Brava, Spain (Lloret de Mar). Round 5 of the 2000 FIA World Rally Championships.
Stage Winners
SS21 - Burns, SS22 - Burns, SS23 - Burns
SS 21 Ponte De Lima Este 23.64 Km 1st Car: 07:33
Stage Pos/ Driver/ Car/ Stage Time
1 Burns Subaru Impreza 15:58,9
2 Sainz Ford Focus 16:10,3
3 Gronholm Peugeot 206 16:11,4
4 Martin Toyota Corolla 16:19,9
5 Loix Mitsu Lancer 16:25,1
SS 22 Ponte De Lima Oeste 25.66 Km 1st Car: 08:28
Stage Pos/ Driver/ Car/ Stage Time
1 Burns Subaru Impreza 19:04,2
2 Gronholm Peugeot 206 19:08,0
3 Sainz Ford Focus 19:23,5
4 Delecour Peugeot 206 19:27,7
5 Rovanpera Seat Cordoba 19:37,1
SS 23 Ponte De Lima Sul 11.15 Km 1st Car: 09:33
Stage Pos/ Driver/ Car/ Stage Time
1 Burns Subaru Impreza 8:12,9
2 Gronholm Peugeot 206 8:17,7
3 Sainz Ford Focus 8:27,8
4 Loix Mitsu Lancer 8:30,7
5 Delecour Peugeot 206 8:34,9

End of Leg 2
Saturday 18th March 2000
The second full day of the Rally of Portugal took the action south to the famous Arganil region. Notoriously hard on cars and tyres, the first three stages were immediately repeated before the route moved north to Mortagua and then back to Porto. Richard Burns launched his big attack this morning and moved into second place with a storming time on the opening stage before gradually cutting back Marcus Gronholm's overnight lead and moving ahead on SS17. Gronholm fought back though, winning the final two stages to lead the rally at the end of the second leg - "I'm going very quickly at the moment, quite fast enough" said Gronholm.

Burns was fastest on five of the first six stages today. He gained the lead after SS17 but lost it after being slowed by visibility problems on the final 2 stages. "The only responsible option was to slow down and reduce the risk of hitting the spectators. I'm annoyed at losing the lead in this way - but feel sure I can get the lead back tomorrow" said Burns.

Marcus Gronholm maintained his overnight lead despite coming under severe pressure from the chasing Richard Burns. "I can't do anything about Richard, he admitted. "He's driving too fast. However, we'll have our new engine in Catalunya and then we'll be able to increase the pace significantly." Both Peugeots have suffered mechanical problems today. Francois Delecour's car coasted to the end of SS14 after its fuel pump failed and he also found that the clutch was not working properly. He also complained that the brakes were lacking feel. Local driver Adruzilo Lopes was slowed on SS17 when a shock absorber broke and punched its way through the bonnet.

Petter Solberg continued to set fast times today and moved into fourth place behind team leader Carlos Sainz over the opening three stages. This is the first event where the team hasn't told me to take care of the car and it seems to be going quite well," he said. When asked could he go any faster, the Norwegian replied: "Obviously I can't challenge Carlos but I'm sure I could drive quicker. There's not a scratch on my car and that's not good. You should always have some marks to show that you've been trying!" Sainz explained that today's stages are not as sandy as yesterday's. "They are rocky, although not rough, and so road position isn't quite so critical." On the second batch of stages today Solberg claimed his first fastest time, beating Burns by just 0.1s but was fortunate at the service area after SS17 when he reached the control with no fuel left in the tank!

Freddy Loix suffered brake problems on the second stage today after a wheel bearing failed and this spoiled what might have been a run of quick times for the Belgian driver. He had set the fourth fastest time on the opening stage but his progress was pegged by the problems although, thanks to other drivers hitting trouble, he was still able to move up the leaderboard. "The car was working well for the first 20kms," he explained. "Then the brake pedal just went straight to the floor and got worse. By the end of the stage I didn't have any brakes at all so I had to rely on the handbrake." On the first stage of the second section Loix suffered again and the problem was diagnosed as a loose brake fluid pipe. The crew had spares in the car so that they could attempt a repair between stages.

Armin Schwarz continued his trouble free run today, his only complaint being the Octavia's lack of power when pulling out of tight corners. His team mate Luis Climent was unable to do much about his overall position as he was forced to tackle today's stages behind Group N leader Miguel Campos and had no option but to run in the dust from the slower Mitsubishi. Because of non-registered drivers ahead of them, Skoda completed the day with Schwarz in a Championship points-scoring position.

Didier Auriol was slow on today's stages when his SEAT developed dramatic handling problems. A broken drive shaft was just one of the Frenchman's problems but fellow competitors described how the SEAT was snaking from one side of the road to another as it accelerated from the start line of SS13. Auriol reached the end of SS15 with front-wheel drive only. Toni Gardemeister, in the second Cordoba WRC E2, has been suffering with brake problems all through the rally and the team attributed the fault to an electronic link between the brakes and the transmission that was causing the systems to lock up every time Gardemeister tried to brake.

Unfortunately Hyundai's promising event with the Accent WRC came to an end in the first run on the Gois stage this morning when clutch problems forced Kenneth Eriksson to abandon the competition. A fluid leak started a fire under the car and the team believes that it was the fire damage that ultimately cost the Swede any chance of continuing, rather than the clutch problem itself. Australian Michael Guests finished the day in the lead of the 2-Litre category.

Other Teams
The Group N contenders were decimated on the Arganil stages today when Uwe Nittel, Gabriel Mendez, Gustavo Trelles and Pedro Leal all retired. Leal's accident caused SS14 to be halted. Miguel Campos was therefore left with a two minute lead over Manfred Stohl after the first section. In the FIA Teams Cup contest, Frederic Dor began to put overnight leader Serkan Yazici under pressure and finally eased his Subaru ahead. Thomas Radstrom retired from the event last night after going OTL changing the centre diff.

Leg 2 started from Exponor, Matosinhos at 06h00 and covered 724.29km including 179.25km on 9 special stages.
Leading retirements: Eriksson (S)

Sunday 19 March The third and final leg starts from Exponor, Matosinhos at 06h00 and covers 290.12km including 60.30km on 3 special stages. The finish of the rally is at Matosinhos city centre at 12h00.

Weather forecast
Hot and sunny.
Provisional Results after Leg 2
1 Gronholm Peugeot 206 3:50:29,4
2 Burns Subaru Impreza 3:50:44,0
3 Sainz Ford Focus 3:52:07,6
4 Rovanpera Toyota Corolla 3:52:36,1
5 Delecour Peugeot 206 3:53:29,4
6 Martin Toyota Corolla 3:55:37,0
7 Loix Mitsu Lancer 3:56:36,6
8 Schwarz Skoda Octavia 3:56:58,1
9 Gardemeister Seat Cordoba 3:57:22,2
10 Auriol Seat Cordoba 4:01:32,2

Group N
1 Campos Mitus Lancer 4:09:01,9
2 Stohl Mitsu Lancer 4:11:53,4
3 Menzi Mitsu Lancer 4:14:46,0

1 Guest Hyundai Coupe 4:37:51,5

Teams Cup
1 Dor Subaru Impreza 4:18:20,2
Stage Winners
SS12 - Burns, SS13 - Burns, SS14 - Burns, SS15 - Solberg, SS16 - Burns, SS17 - Burns, SS18 - Sainz, SS19 - Gronholm, SS20 - Gronholm
SS 12 Piódão 26.28 Km 1st Car: 09:15
Stage Pos/ Driver/ Car/ Stage Time
1 Burns Subaru Impreza 16:46,0
2 Gronholm Peugeot 206 17:05,0
3 Sainz Ford Focus 17:05,5
4 Loix Mitsu Lancer 17:07,9
5 Delecour Peugeot 206 17:10,8
SS 13 Arganil 13.86 Km 1st Car: 10:18
Stage Pos/ Driver/ Car/ Stage Time
1 Burns Subaru Impreza 09:39,6
2 Gronholm Peugeot 206 09:46,9
3 Sainz Ford Focus 09:50,8
4 Rovanpera Toyota Corolla 09:54,7
5 Solberg Ford Focus 09:57,6
SS 14 Salgueiro/Góis 19.70 Km 1st Car: 10:46
Stage Pos/ Driver/ Car/ Stage Time
1 Burns Subaru Impreza 11:24,0
2 Gronholm Peugeot 206 11:28,7
3 Sainz Ford Focus 11:35,3
4 Solberg Ford Focus 11:35,5
5 Delecour Peugeot 206 11:36,6
SS 15 Piódão 26.28 Km 1st Car: 13:10
Stage Pos/ Driver/ Car/ Stage Time
1 Solberg Ford Focus 17:09,6
2 Burns Subaru Impreza 17:09,7
3 Gronholm Peugeot 206 17:14,5
4 Rovanpera Toyota Corolla 17:17,8
5 Delecour Peugeot 206 17:18,1
SS 16 Arganil 13.86 Km 1st Car: 14:13
Stage Pos/ Driver/ Car/ Stage Time
1 Burns Subaru Impreza 09:49,9
2 Sainz Ford Focus 09:52,5
3 Gronholm Peugeot 206 09:55,3
4 Loix Mitsu Lancer 09:55,9
5 Rovanpera Toyota Corolla 09:57,8
SS 17 Salgueiro/Góis 19.70 Km 1st Car: 14:41
Stage Pos/ Driver/ Car/ Stage Time
1 Burns Subaru Impreza 11:24,0
2 Delecour Peugeot 206 11:30,0
3 Sainz Ford Focus 11:30,9
4 Solberg Ford Focus 11:32,5
5 Gronholm Peugeot 206 11:35,2
SS 18 Tábua 13.49 Km 1st Car: 16:28
Stage Pos/ Driver/ Car/ Stage Time
1 Sainz Ford Focus 08:35,9
2 Burns Subaru Impreza 08:36,9
3 Gronholm Peugeot 206 08:37,9
4 Delecour Peugeot 206 08:38,2
5 Rovanpera Toyota Corolla 08:38,6
SS 19 Aguieira 23.10 Km 1st Car: 17:23
Stage Pos/ Driver/ Car/ Stage Time
1 Gronholm Peugeot 206 16:59,6
2 Sainz Ford Focus 17:04,4
3 Delecour Peugeot 206 17:07,7
4 Burns Subaru Impreza 17:14,2
5 Martin Toyota Corolla 17:18,8
SS 20 Mortazel/Mortágua 25.38 Km 1st Car: 18:00
Stage Pos/ Driver/ Car/ Stage Time
1 Gronholm Peugeot 206 17:17,7
2 Burns Subaru Impreza 17:28,7
3 Rovanpera Toyota Corolla 17:42,3
4 Gardemeister Seat Cordoba 17:54,2
5 Delecour Peugeot 206 17:59,8
FIA Press Release
End of Leg 1
Friday 17th March 2000 After last night's curtain-raising superspecial, the TAP Rally of Portugal started in earnest this morning with stages in the Fafe region to the north east of Porto. These stages are notoriously sandy and for the first run over the opening trio of tests the conditions at times resembled those seen on the Dakar, with thick clouds of dust marking the passage of each car. Tens of thousands of Portuguese fans lined the roads to see the action but, happily, they obeyed the safety officials' instructions and stayed out of danger. Today has been dramatic in terms of the possible FIA World Rally Championship outcome. Three potential 2000 Champions have retired today as the stages in the Fafe region took their toll on transmissions, engines and power-steering systems. With two more days to go, Portugal could yet prove to be one of the toughest events of the season. With only one short stage to end the leg (Lousada 5.30km), Peugeot's Finn Marcus Gronholm leads the field by 29,3 sec.

Juha Kankkunen became the event's first major casualty when the Finn crashed the new Impreza WRC2000 on SS4. "I thought the stage had been swept more than it turned out," he admitted. "I was going too fast and went off 2kms into the stage." The accident damaged the radiator and he was unable to continue. Meanwhile team mate Richard Burns was setting the pace to move ahead on the stage where Kankkunen retired and with four fastest times on today's first six stages he was able to quickly extend that lead. However a power steering problem was not fixed at service and so Burns began to drop time over stages 8-10 and his rivals quickly overhauled him.

Marcus Gronholm led the Portugal Rally after last night's superspecial and remains in contention for victory despite having engine and clutch problems during the day. "This event is proving harder than I thought," he admitted. At one point his engine simply died 900 metres from the end of SS6 but luckily it fired up again and he was able to continue. Team mate Francois Delecour was ideally placed to give support to the Flying Finn but after a brush with the edge of the road just after the jump at Fafe, his Peugeot 206WRC suffered broken suspension. He immediately slipped to the foot of the top 10, dicing for position with the Portuguese 206WRC driven by local hero Adruzilo Lopes.

Tommi Makinen was angry at the event organisers when he discovered that the first three stages today had been regraded after the recce. What's the point of the recce if the stage conditions are going to be changed so dramatically afterwards?" he asked. His problems were made worse by his choice of too hard a tyre compound, the Championship leader was struggling to find grip and labouring outside the top 10. Team mate Freddy Loix was also unhappy with the handling of his car but was tracking Makinen and was able to go quicker once the front diff mapping was changed at the first service halt. On the second run over the first three stages, Makinen was much happier with his car but was delayed with a minor brake problem and then joined the list of retirements when he hit a tree stump and tore a front wheel off the car on SS9.

Colin McRae's hopes of repeating last year's flying start were dashed with a leaking power steering system. "We wanted to attack hard on the first three tests to make full use of our start position before we lost that advantage on the second runs over the stages but that hasn't happened," admitted McRae. "Without the problems I'm sure we could have built up a good lead quite quickly." Team mate Carlos Sainz was struggling with an understeering Focus and was having to use the handbrake on some corners. "We'll swap the car to Colin's settings and if that doesn't work then we'll have to invent something new!" he joked. McRae spun on SS7 and was badly delayed trying to turn the car round to restart the stage. Sainz's hopes of capitalising on his team mate's misfortune were dashed when he lost his power steering and, for the second event in succession, found himself wrestling a Ford Focus to the end of a stage. McRae's woes were complete when his engine blew up on SS9, spoiling what had been a promising first outing for the new power unit used in McRae's and Sainz's cars.

Didier Auriol admitted that his chances of repeating his podium position in Kenya were not that high in Portugal as the shorter stages meant he was having to work a lot harder to stay with the leaders. "If you want to know how hard we are trying, take a look at where the car is landing! joked co-driver Denis Giraudet. Nevertheless the Frenchman was setting good times and was well clear of young Finn Toni Gardemeister who had taken a very different, and apparently unsuitable, tyre choice for the opening group of stages. He also suffered a diff problem during the day that kept him down the leaderboard.

Armin Schwarz sent the Portuguese crowds wild this morning with the most spectacular jump ever seen at Fafe. Skoda's German ace was still airborne long after other drivers had landed! "When I was with Toyota in 1992 we practised that jump 100 times and so I knew I could take it flat out. In the Skoda it was like landing in a sofa!" he joked. The Octavia duo have continued to show improving pace but still have some way to go before they can maintain their record of scoring Championship points for the third event in succession. Schwarz found his engine down on power during the day and Luis Climent gained road penalties for being late out of service after the team fixed a problem with a pipe to the anti-lag system.

While Kenneth Eriksson was again showing that the new Accent WRC is capable of setting competitive times, team mate Alister McRae's Portuguese Rally was cut short with transmission problems on SS4. "This car could have been made for me," enthused the Swede early in the day although some of the car's magic was lost when he suffered a pressure loss in the centre-diff on SS7.

Other Teams
Serkan Yazici led the FIA Teams Cup for Toyota-equipped Team Atakan during this afternoon's stages with Frederic Dor second in his own Subaru over a minute adrift. Abdullah Bakhashab rolled the Toyota Team Saudi Arabia entry on today's first stage and Krzysztof Holowczyc retired the Turning Point Subaru when he ripped a wheel off on SS7. Harri Rovanpera's drive in the Grifone Toyota is producing good results, the Finn up to third after SS9 and regularly setting top three times. Group N seems to be firmly in the hands of Miguel Campos who is almost two minutes clear of the chasing pack including Uwe Nittel, Manfred Stohl, Claudio Menzi and Gustavo Trelles. All the leading Group N drivers are in Mitsubishis.
Provisional Results after Leg 1
1 Gronholm Peugeot 206 1:50:28,6
2 Sainz Ford Focus 1:50:57,2
3 Burns Subaru Impreza 1:51:11,0
4 Rovanpera Toyota Corolla 1:51:11,6
5 Solberg Ford Focus 1:51:15,9
6 Auriol Seat Cordoba 1:51:21,2
7 Martin Toyota Corolla 1:51:45,3
8 Eriksson Huyundai Accent 1:51:45,5
10 Lopes Peugeot 206 1:52:12,4

Group N
1 Campos Mitus Lancer 1:55:56,5
2 Nittel Mitsu Lancer 1:57:22,5
3 Stohl Mitsu Lancer 1:57:27,3

1 Guest Hyundai Coupe 2:04:43,9

Teams Cup
1 Yazici Toyota Corolla 2:01:30,1
3 Dor Subaru Impreza 2:01:58,2
Stage Winners
SS2 - McRae, SS3 - Burns, SS4 - Burns, SS5 - McRae, SS6 - Burns, SS7 - Burns, SS8 - Rovanpera, SS9 - Sainz, SS10 Sainz, SS11 - Delecour
SS 2 Fafe/Lameirinha 15.16 Km 1st Car: 07:25
Stage Pos/ Driver/ Car/ Stage Time
1 McRae Ford Focus 09:58,6
2 Sainz Ford Focus 10:04,1
3 Burns Subaru Impreza 10:04,5
4 Auriol Seat Cordoba 10:05,6
5 Delecour Peugeot 206 10:09,2
SS 3 Luilhas 11.39 Km 1st Car: 07:50
Stage Pos/ Driver/ Car/ Stage Time
1 Burns Subaru Impreza 08:29,5
2 Auriol Seat Cordoba 08:32,9
3 Delecour Peugeot 206 08:33,5
4 Sainz Ford Focus 08:33,8
5 Gronholm Peugeot 206 08:34,6
SS 4 Cabreira 26.68 Km 1st Car: 08:45
Stage Pos/ Driver/ Car/ Stage Time
1 Burns Subaru Impreza 17:41,3
2 Gronholm Peugeot 206 17:53,4
3 Sainz Ford Focus 17:57,5
4 Rovanpera Toyota Corolla 17:58,1
5 Delecour Peugeot 206 18:02,0
SS 5 Fafe/Lameirinha 15.16 Km 1st Car: 10:25
Stage Pos/ Driver/ Car/ Stage Time
1 McRae Ford Focus 09:52,4
2 Gronholm Peugeot 206 09:56,1
3 Burns Subaru Impreza 09:56,6
3 Delecour Peugeot 206 09:56,6
5 Sainz Ford Focus 09:57,1
SS 6 Luilhas 11.39 Km 1st Car: 10:50
Stage Pos/ Driver/ Car/ Stage Time
1 Burns Subaru Impreza 08:24,2
2 Sainz Ford Focus 08:24,8
3 McRae Ford Focus 08:25,0
4 Delecour Peugeot 206 08:28,9
5 Solberg Ford Focus 08:30,0
SS 7 Cabreira 26.68 Km 1st Car: 11:45
Stage Pos/ Driver/ Car/ Stage Time
1 Burns Subaru Impreza 17:42,5
2 Gronholm Peugeot 206 17:44,7
3 Makinen Mitus Lancer 17:50,0
4 Solberg Ford Focus 17:54,6
5 Eriksson Hyundai Accent 17:58,2
SS 8 Vizo/Celorico De Basto 11.84 Km 1st Car: 13:21
Stage Pos/ Driver/ Car/ Stage Time
1 Rovanpera Toyota Corolla 07:31,5
2 Martin Toyota Corolla 07:31,6
3 Gronholm Peugeot 206 07:31,7
4 Makinen Mitsu Lancer 07:33,4
5 Sainz Ford Focus 07:33,8
SS 9 Fridão 14.20 Km 1st Car: 14:16
Stage Pos/ Driver/ Car/ Stage Time
1 Sainz Ford Focus 10:25,4
2 Gronholm Peugeot 206 10:28,0
3 Rovanpera Toyota Corolla 10:28,7
4 Auriol Seat Cordoba 10:32,7
5 Delecour Peugeot 206 10:32,9
SS 10 Aboboreira 17.96 Km 1st Car: 15:06
Stage Pos/ Driver/ Car/ Stage Time
1 Sainz Ford Focus 12:18,7
2 Gronholm Peugeot 206 12:20,0
3 Delecour Peugeot 206 12:23,2
4 Solberg Ford Focus 12:24,5
5 Loix Mitsu Lancer 12:27,1
SS 11 Super-Especial de Lousada 5.30 Km 1st Car: 17:45
Stage Pos/ Driver/ Car/ Stage Time
1 Delecour Peugeot 206 03:59,1
2 Sainz Ford Focus 03:59,4
3 Lopes Peugeot 206 03:59,5
4 Gronholm Peugeot 206 04:00,1
4 Martin Toyota Corolla 04:00,1

Thursday 16th March
Today saw a single 3.20km spectator stage held at Baltar.
The real rally action starts tomorrow with 150km of competitive stages.

Provisional Results after SS 1, Leg 1
1 Gronholm Peugeot 206 3:06,2
2 Rovanpera Toyota Corolla 3:06,4
3 McRae Ford Focus 3:06,6
4 Radstrom Toyota Corolla 3:08,2
5 Kankkunen Subaru Impreza 3:08,6
6 Burns Subaru Impreza 3:09,0
7 Auriol Seat Cordoba 3:09,2
8 Sainz Ford Focus 3:09,3
8 Solberg Ford Focus 3:09,3
10 Delecour Peugeot 206 3:09,5

Group N
1 Stohl Mitsu Lancer 3:19,2
2 Puras Mitsu Carisma 3:19,8
3 Nittel Mitsu Lancer 3:20,0
3 Leal Mitsu Lancer 3:20,0

1 Lopez Citroen Saxo 3:27,2
2 Princen Renault Megane 3:31,6
3 Guest Hyundai Coupe 3:33,3

Teams Cup
1 Holowczyc Subaru Impreza 3:11,6
2 Bakhashab Toyota Corolla 3:16,2
3 Dor Subaru Impreza 3:16,7
FIA Press Release
Fourth round of the 2000 season. At the previous round in Kenya Subaru took over the lead in the manufacturers' title from Mitsubishi but, despite not finishing in Africa, four times world champion Tommi Makinen retains the drivers' lead. On the Rally of Portugal there are four Teams' Cup entries, including new driver Serkan Yazici for the Turkish Team Atakan. This is the first time this season that all seven registered world championship teams have competed on the same event. Four times champion Gustavo Trelles, having reverted to his former codriver Jorge del Buono, re-enters the Group N title race, currently led by Manfred Stohl. After the first three rounds held in extreme conditions, the Portugal Rally is considered the first orthodox rally of the season.

(Burns and Kankkunen) 25 points. Subaru plan to run the 2000 version Impreza World Rally Car for the first time. The new car features many detailed changes, principally revised under-bonnet cooling layout. Final testing was carried out at Arganil this week in the hands of Burns, Kankkunen and test driver Robbie Head. FIA homologation is due to be confirmed today (Friday). Burns said earlier "The car looks externally similar to the '99 model but there are small but important changes under the surface!"

MARLBORO MITSUBISHI RALLIART (Makinen and Loix) 18 points. It has been confirmed that Makinen's retirement in Kenya was due to fractured plates inside the battery, a problem which had also manifested on two other occasions in Kenya. For this event there will be further revisions to the rear suspension, aimed at making the car handle as predictably as possible on fast-changing surfaces, in addition to the new longer-travel suspension, first used in Kenya. The front differentials have been strengthened. Rally engineer David Hudson: "This is the worst rally in the championship for the differentials."

FORD MOTOR COMPANY (Sainz and Colin McRae) 13 points. For this rally the cars are fitted with a new design of steering rack and one car (probably their third entry, for Petter Solberg) is due to be fitted with the latest specification engine. One of the official cars will be new. The first privately- run Focus in WRC is to be driven by Polish driver Janusz Kulig

PEUGEOT ESSO (Delecour and Gronholm) 11 points. Portugal is to be the final rally for the first version 206 WRC before the second model (with triple active differentials) appears in Catalunya with both drivers using ex-Network Q cars. Sport director Corrado Provera: "Over the last few events we have been getting more and more confident. After all the troubles earlier, we had no problem with the gearbox in Kenya."

SEAT SPORT (Auriol and Gardemeister) 7 points. Gardemeister's co-driver Paavo Lukander has been passed fit to start the rally after intensive physiotherapy treatment in Finland following his testing accident in Kenya. Pre-rally test work has concentrated on improving traction through electronic set-up changes.

SKODA MOTORSPORT (Schwarz and Climent) 4 points. Lack of time since Safari has prevented the chance to analyse the transmission problems suffered by Climent's car. Last week was spent testing in Spain firstly on gravel for Portugal then on asphalt for Catalunya. Sport director Pavel Janeba: "Our cars are basically reliable, now our priority is to make them systematically more competitive."

HYUNDAI CASTROL WORLD RALLY TEAM (Eriksson and Alister McRae) 0 points. Graeme Garvin, rally engineer: "We are building on experiences gained in Sweden. There will be no major changes in the specification for Portugal: we are even using the same cars. It will be interesting to see how our times compare on gravel with other teams."

Team swap for Finnish driver Harri Rovanpera. The former regular SEAT driver is to drive a Toyota Corolla WRC from the HF Grifone team - the same car used by Bruno Thiry at Monte Carlo. Two World Rally Cars normally used in national events are also to appear: the SEAT Cordoba of Rui Madeira and the Peugeot 206 of Adruzilo Lopes. Jesus Puras, current Spanish rally champion and regular Citroen driver, contests this event in a Group N Mitsubishi.

The Rally of Portugal coincides with the first round of the French national championship, the Lyon-Charbonnieres Rally which will see the debut of the Citroen Xsara T4 car. This turbocharged, four-wheel drive car has been built for the new French Rally Car formula which features the same technical rules as the World Rally Car. This enables Citroen to gain on-event experience ready for the company's World Rally Car championship programme in 2001.

Toyotas are back. No fewer than eight Corolla World Rally Cars are expected to take the start, mostly in similar specification to the cars run last year by the factory. Thomas Radstrom unfortunately withdrew the week before the rally due to budget problems. At the Safari only one Toyota started - a Celica GT-Four.

Welcome to Serkan Yazici, the 28 year old Turkish driver who replaces Volkan Isik in the national Teams' Cup entry. Serkan comes from Bursa and has recently been given personal rally tuition in Italy by Piero Longhi.

Farewell to John Buffum, the 46 year old veteran American rally driver, contests the Rally of Portugal as a finale to his international rally career. Since he started in 1969 he has won outright a total of 119 national level or international rallies, making him the sport's most successful driver. "I don't mind how I get on, I just want to see how I measure up against these new young drivers!"

Spectator zones are being set up on all the stages except the final one. This is not only to attract visitors to places where they can watch at ease, but also to dissuade them from going to other areas. Roads leading to the stages on the final day will be closed to traffic 24 hours before the rally arrives.

The Portugal Rally organisers held a simulated event two weeks before the world championship rally. This was for just two competition cars! It was a project to acclimatise all the authorities (marshals, officials, police and security officials) to the real event.

Statistics: changing times. Over a quarter of the entry are World Rally Cars, yet among the top half of the field there are only two Kit Cars! The only competitive front-wheel drive cars on the entry list are for Michael Guest (semi-official Hyundai Coupe KC) and Kris Princen (Belgian dealers Renault Maxi Megane). There will be other competitive front-drive cars, which must now run with 40kg ballast, on the Catalunya Rally, however.

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