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Round 5 of the 2001 FIA World Rally Championship
3-6 May 2001
Official FIA Press Release
End of Rally report
Colin McRae kick-started his bid for the FIA World Rally Championship by winning the fifth round of this year's series, the Rally Argentina, which finished in Cordoba this afternoon. The Scot and navigator Nicky Grist had led from the start, and they paced themselves today to keep chief rival Richard Burns at bay without taking excessive risks. Burns claimed second, ahead of McRae's team-mate Carlos Sainz. The Spaniard fought through a painful back injury to bag the final podium position and close the gap to current series leader Tommi Mäkinen (who finished fourth in Argentina) to five points.
Today's stages, held in the mountains near El Condor, were among the toughest in the entire event and several of the sport's top stars hit trouble. Reigning world champion Marcus Grönholm retired with clutch difficulties after an accident, while Kenneth Eriksson and Didier Auriol both retired with mechanical problems.
Technical: The leading two Focus WRC01s - driven by Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz - have suffered no major mechanical problems today, but François Delecour had to work on his example during this morning's first pair of tests. A turbo pipe clip broke before the opening stage, allowing the pipe to come loose and the Focus to lose turbo boost. Although the Frenchman made temporary repairs before the stage, the pipe came loose after just four kilometres. But Delecour and navigator Daniel Grataloup effected more substantial repairs before the second test. Then on the second loop of stages, Delecour's car suffered a problem in its fly-by-wire throttle system. His problems prevented him from scoring a point.
Sporting: Colin McRae started today with a useful lead and he was content to match Richard Burns's pace on some tests and take no risks in the more tricky sections. He still had nearly half a minute in hand at the finish to score his first win since the Acropolis Rally last June. Carlos Sainz felt slightly more comfortable with his back problems than yesterday. The Spaniard was unable to close the gap to the cars in front but equally, he came under no pressure from behind as he netted yet another podium finish. Francois Delecour's hopes of maintaining his run of points scores ended with mechanical problems this morning, but the Frenchman still finished seventh.
Quotes: Colin McRae said: ăI'm glad that's over! You feel more pressure when you haven't won for so long. To grab the rally lead at the start and control the event like we did today is great. It just shows what we can do when we have a reliable package - the car's always competitive. The next two rallies in Cyprus and Greece tend to suit the Focus so hopefully this can be the start of a good run.
Carlos Sainz said: ăThe hardest part of the rally for me was yesterday morning, when I woke up early and couldn't get back to sleep because of the pain. At that point, I even thought that finishing might be impossible, so to come out of this with a third place is a good result for me.
Team boss Malcolm Wilson said: ăI think this is one of Colin's best drives yet, right up there with Portugal 1999. It was a similar style of win, because he grabbed the initiative in the first day and just controlled the rally from the front. Of course he's got a chance of the championship now - the car looks competitive on almost every surface, and the next two rallies in Cyprus and Greece were good for us last year. We're also working already on improved asphalt performance for Sanremo and Corsica later in the season. I must also pay tribute to Carlos's drive, too - he struggled to get up yesterday with his back pain, but he still scored a podium finish
Technical: The Impreza WRC2001s of Richard Burns and Petter Solberg have been generally reliable today, but Toshihiro Arai's example hit power steering problems on the second loop of stages.
Sporting: Richard Burns continued to press Colin McRae this morning but, ultimately, the Englishman had to settle for second overall. His team-mate Petter Solberg was determined not to get drawn into a battle with fifth-placed Tommi Mäkinen and as the Norwegian maintained his cautious approach, he ceded fourth to the Mitsubishi driver. The third Impreza of Toshihiro Arai benefited from late retirements to claim eighth overall.
Quotes: Richard Burns said: äAfter my mistake with a spin and some other problems on the first day, it was difficult to get that much time back from Colin. But at least we made a fight of it. We came here needing to score a top result to stand any chance in the championship and we've done that. After the first day I don't think we could realistically have expected much more than this unless Colin hit a problem, and he didn't. It's a good result for the team, because it shows we're making progress, but also Pirelli, which has scored a one-two-three here. They have to take some of the credit.
Petter Solberg said: ăI wasn't ready to fight Tommi today - after all, we're talking about a four-times world champion. He's got much more experience than me and a good record here, so I expected to be passed. I just want to build on this finish and experience for the next rallies.
Toshihiro Arai said: ăI took it carefully on some of the stages today - perhaps I was too cautious, but the speeds involved here are just unbelievable. The roads are so quick and even a slight mistake could mean retirement, and I badly wanted the experience. I'm glad to get a top ten finish.
Technical: Tommi Mäkinen had to effect running repairs on his Mitsubishi Lancer after this morning's first stage, when the Finn discovered his radiator was leaking water. He topped up the radiator and re-sealed it, and it gave him no further problems. Freddy Loix, meanwhile, felt that his Lancer's front differential was too tight for this morning's sandy stages after a gearbox change yesterday evening. A change of computer mapping left him happier with the car's set-up.
Sporting: Tommi Mäkinen started today's stages hoping to ease ahead of Petter Solberg into fourth, and despite a high-speed spin in SS17, he eased ahead by lunchtime. His result minimised championship rival Carlos Sainz's gain here to just a single point. Mäkinen's team-mate Freddy Loix wasn't satisfied with his car's handling on the first two stages today but once his team had changed differential settings the Belgian enjoyed a steady run. He bagged sixth since when Marcus Grönholm retired.
Quotes: Tommi Mäkinen said: ăYesterday was our worst day - we lost so much time with problems and wrong tyre choices, and with the grouping of stages it really punished you for that. It's not the best result we could have had here.
Freddy Loix said: ăI'm really glad to be in the points. I'm getting more confident with the car on every event these days and some of our times here have been encouraging. Cyprus is next and I was quick there last year - I'm optimistic I'll be able to build on this form and get a good result for myself and the team there.
Technical: Kenneth Eriksson's Accent WRC2 was reliable for much of today, but on the penultimate stage the car sheered bolts from one of its hubs and the Swede had to retire. Alister McRae damaged an oil cooler after a heavy landing on a jump on today's opening stage. The Scot and navigator David Senior fixed the problem before the second stage, though.
Sporting: Both Alister McRae and Kenneth Eriksson continued to set strong times today, with the Scot sixth fastest overall in SS17. Eriksson was concerned about the numbers of spectators on some stages, but he consolidated his overnight tenth position until the penultimate stage, when he was forced to retire with wheel hub problems. McRae started the day in a lonely 12th, but he moved into the top ten thanks to the problems that befell his team-mate, Marcus Grönholm and Didier Auriol. The Scot eventually finished ninth.
Quotes: Alister McRae said: ăIt was frustrating to lose time yesterday because our pace shows we'd a good chance of scoring a point or two. The handling of the car's been good all event and I've made it better still by playing with the differential settings. We've never been as close to the front-runners as we have been here.
Kenneth Eriksson said: ăThe left-front corner must have been damaged because the wheel just came off. It's a pity because the car has felt good throughout the rally.
Technical: Marcus Grönholm lost turbo boost on this morning's opening stage after the Finn scooped sand into the car's air filter in a heavy landing. He later retired with clutch failure caused by struggling back onto the road after an accident. Didier Auriol suffered no mechanical problems until the penultimate stage, when he slid off the road and damaged his right-front wheel beyond repair.
Sporting: Marcus Grönholm came under pressure from Freddy Loix when he lost time with low turbo boost this morning, but after fixing the problem the reigning FIA World Rally Champion set fastest time on the very next stage to make sixth place his own. However, he slid off the road at the first corner of the next stage, and although he was able to rejoin the road his clutch had been damaged in the process. He retired before the end of the test. Grönholm's team-mate Didier Auriol had little to fight for today, and he looked set to bag eighth after the Finn retired. But on the penultimate stage, he damaged a wheel and although he reached the end of the test, he was unable to continue
Quotes: Didier Auriol said: ăIt was a rut on a right-hand corner but inside the rut was a big stone. Because we were in the rut I'd no way of avoiding it and it damaged the wheel. By the time we'd got to the end of the stage we'd done four kilometres on three wheels and there was no way we could continue. I just hope that we have better reliability for Cyprus and Greece - perhaps the next evolution of the car (expected in Cyprus) will give us a boost.
Sporting: Neither Skoda was present on the stages today after the bizarre road accident that forced both to retire yesterday afternoon. The firm's Engineering Director with Responsibility for Motorsport, Dr Jens Pohlmann, who was hit by the fire truck that then damaged the two Octavias, remains in a serious but stable condition in intensive care in hospital in Cordoba. He has five broken ribs, a broken pelvis and a broken shoulderbone, as well as internal trauma, but he is conscious.
Gabriel Pozzo continued his run to success in the Group N category for more standard machinery today. The local driver's Mitsubishi Lancer finished more than two minutes clear of the similar car of multiple class champion Gustavo Trelles. Marcos Ligato had inched ahead of Trelles earlier today, but he retired this afternoon in the last stage, with gear selection difficulties. Roberto Sanchez was thus able to bring his Subaru Impreza through to third in the class.
1 McRae Ford Focus WRC 4:18:25,3
2 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 4:18:53,1
3 Sainz Ford Focus RS WRC 4:20:11,7
4 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 4:21:37,9
5 Solberg Subaru Impreza WRC 4:22:12,3
6 Loix Mitsubishi Carisma GT 4:24:05,4
7 Delecour Ford Focus RS WRC 4:24:36,2
8 Arai Subaru Impreza WRC 4:29:21,0
9 A.McRae Hyundai Accent WRC 4:32:24,2
10 Pozzo Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 4:38:40,4
1 Pozzo Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 4:38:40,4
2 Trelles Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 4:40:45,5
3 Sanchez Subaru Impreza WRC 4:44:34,5
CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (provisional standing after 5 of 14 rounds):
Mäkinen (FIN) 27
Sainz (E) 22
Rovanperä (FIN) 10
Auriol (F) 10
C. McRae (GB) 10
Burns (GB) 9
Delecour (F) 8
Rådström (S) 6
Panizzi (F) 6
Gardemeister (FIN) 5
Grönholm (FIN) 4
Loix (B) 4
Schwarz (D) 3
Bugalski (F) 3
Solberg (N) 3
A. McRae (GB) 1
FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers:
FIA World Cup for Drivers of Production Cars:
Pozzo (RA) 23
Gillet (CH) 10
Walfridsson (S) 10
Da Silva & Trelles (ROU) 10
Blomqvist (S) 8
FIA Teams Cup:
Toyota Team Denmark (DK) 10
Team Toyota Castrol Finland (FIN) 10
David Sutton (Cars) (GB) 6
Oman Arab World Rally Team (OM) 6
Yiannis Papadimitriou (GR) 4
Marlboro Ford Mobil 1 Team Poland (PL) 4
World Rally Hire (GB) 4
Toyota Team Saudi Arabia (SA) 3
Frederic Dor Rally Team (F) 2
FIA Super 1600 Championship for Drivers:
Loeb (F) 10
Basso (I) 6
Fontana (I) 4
Stenshorne (N) 3
Dallavilla (I) 2
Chemin (I) 1
SS20 Eriksson Hyundai Accent WRC Lost wheel
SS20 Auriol Peugeot 206 WRC Damaged suspension
SS18 Gronholm Peugeot 206 WRC Accident
SS11 Schwarz Skoda Octavia WRC Service area accident
SS11 Thiry Skoda Octavia WRC Service area accident
SS7 Rovanpera Peugeot 206 WRC Suspension
SS16 - Makinen, SS17 - Gronholm, SS18 - Burns, SS19 - Burns, SS20 - McRae, SS21 - Burns
SS 16, Cura Brochero - Cienaga de Allende 13.63km
1 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6:43,1
2 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 6:45,8
3 Sainz Ford Focus RS WRC 6:47,6
4 Solberg Subaru Impreza WRC 6:48,0
5 Auriol Peugeot 206 WRC 6:48,7
SS 17, El Mirador - San Lorenzo 1 20.65km
1 Gronholm Peugeot 206 WRC 11:29,5
2 McRae Ford Focus WRC 11:35,3
3 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 11:35,5
4 Sainz Ford Focus RS WRC 11:36,4
5 Auriol Peugeot 206 WRC 11:36,8
SS 18, Chamico - Ambul 24.60km
1 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 17:50,4
2 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 17:54,2
3 McRae Ford Focus WRC 17:56,8
4 Sainz Ford Focus RS WRC 18:01,0
5 Auriol Peugeot 206 WRC 18:06,6
SS 19, El Mirador - San Lorenzo 2 20.65km
1 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 11:25,3
2 Auriol Peugeot 206 WRC 11:27,1
3 McRae Ford Focus WRC 11:28,9
4 Solberg Subaru Impreza WRC 11:31,7
5 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 11:32,1
SS 20, Mina Clavero - Giulio Cesare 22.26km
1 McRae Ford Focus WRC 18:06,4
2 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 18:09,8
3 Sainz Ford Focus RS WRC 18:17,3
4 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 18:17,4
5 Delecour Ford Focus RS WRC 18:25,2
SS 21, El Condor - Copina 16.77km
1 McRae Ford Focus WRC 13:50,3
2 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 13:50,4
3 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 13:52,9
4 Delecour Ford Focus RS WRC 13:52,9
5 Sainz Ford Focus RS WRC 13:53,5
End of Leg 2
Colin McRae and Richard Burns continue to swap seconds at the front of the fifth round of the FIA World Rally Championship, the Rally Argentina, which continued south of Cordoba today. Despite Subaru driver excess of 40 seconds throughout today's stages, which have been held on dry roads and in bright sunshine.
Third-placed Carlos Sainz has fought hard against increasing pain from his back injury today, but the Spaniard's task in third was made easier when both Tommi Mäkinen and Didier Auriol lost time with mechanical problems. Their difficulties allowed reigning FIA World Rally Champion Marcus Grönholm to move into fourth before he hit mechanical problems late this afternoon.
The day was marred, however, by a serious road accident involving a local fire truck responding to a blaze involving spectators' cars near the finish of SS11. The truck clipped and seriously injured a senior Skoda team member before rolling onto its side and crashing into the team's two cars in the Santa Rose de Calamuchita regroup area.
Technical: The three Focus WRC01s - driven by Colin McRae, Carlos Sainz and Francois Delecour - have suffered no major mechanical problems today.
Sporting: Colin McRae has defending his overnight lead in style today, matching Richard Burns's pace to keep his advantage at around the 40 second mark. His team-mate Carlos Sainz has found his back injury more painful, though - the Spaniard did not sleep much yesterday evening and felt greater pain from his sciatic nerve this morning. His hopes of retaining third overall were boosted by problems that befell Tommi Mäkinen and Didier Auriol, though. The third Focus, driven by Francois Delecour, has continued its recovery after the Frenchman's accident yesterday - he'd moved clear of Freddy Loix's Mitsubishi by lunchtime, although a points placing is still more than a minute away.
Quotes: Colin McRae said: ăThe roads have been nice today - very hard, compacted gravel that's almost like concrete in places. The lead still looks good but I'm pushing hard to keep it at this level, and Richard's still trying. The difference between us shows in the rougher stuff because I'm not taking risks in there and I think he might be. Tomorrow's going to be the hardest day, though, so anything can still happen.
Carlos Sainz said: ăI woke up at two in the morning and didn't get back to sleep, and I'm certainly not 100 percent. I've been on more painkillers this morning but I'm feeling more pain. It seems I'm getting every feeling during this event.
Technical: The Impreza WRC2001s of Richard Burns and Toshihiro Arai have been reliable today, but Petter Solberg's example hit gearbox problems in the day's final 'proper' stage and the Norwegian was left with only third and fifth gears.
Sporting: Richard Burns has effectively been able to match Colin McRae's pace today without really making inroads into the Scot's advantage. The Englishman has eased further ahead of third-placed Carlos Sainz, though. Team-mate Petter Solberg has benefited from problems which hit Tommi Mäkinen, Didier Auriol and Marcus Gronholm, and the young Norwegian overcame gearbox problems on the day's final long test to hold a relatively comfortable fourth place.
Quotes: Richard Burns said: äI'd say Colin ended up having a slightly better tyre choice for this morning's first loop of stages, but there's clearly not much in it. All I can do is keep pushing at this pace, trying to keep him on his toes. We're pushing hard - not taking every risk, but certainly trying.
Petter Solberg said: ăToday's been better because when we practised these stages before the rally, visibility was much better than it was for yesterday's tests. So my pacenotes were prepared in similar conditions to the ones we're seeing today, and that makes it easier to read the roads. Having only third and fifth gear for the last full stage was hard, and on the stage before that the drinks bottle ended up in my footwell, which made braking interesting! But I'm learning all the time.
Technical: Tommi Mäkinen's Lancer Evolution hit problems halfway through this morning's first stage, when a rear driveshaft came loose and left the Finn with only one driven wheel at the rear. Although he attempted to solve the problem between the first two tests, he wasn't able to effect satisfactory repairs until after SS10. By that point, he'd lost more than one and a half minutes to the leaders and dropped to sixth. Freddy Loix's example has been more reliable, although the Belgian felt his car's suspension was too soft for the hard, fast surfaces this morning. A change of shock absorbers cured the problem for second loop of stages.
Sporting: Tommi Mäkinen's hopes of challenging for a podium place disappeared on this morning's first stage, when his Lancer encountered transmission problems. The Finn dropped behind Didier Auriol, but he moved back ahead of the Frenchman when his Peugeot encountered engine difficulties on the very next stage. Marcus Grönholm's late problems then moved Mäkinen back into fifth. Freddy Loix has concentrated on building more experience of the stage, but he's been unable to stave off a charging François Delecour.
Quotes: Tommi Mäkinen said: ăIt's a shame we weren't able to fix the problem after the first stage because it cost us another minute. The handling was pretty difficult with only one-wheel drive at the rear. Then when I did fix it, I forgot that I'd locked all the differentials until we got near the end of the stage! The car was better for the next loop of stages but unfortunately we chose too hard a tyre compound so we couldn't even charge there. All we can do now is keep a good speed and hope some others hit problems. Perhaps some rain and mist wouldn't be too bad for us.
Technical: Didier Auriol's Peugeot 206 WRC was hit by wastegate problems on today's second stage and the Frenchman dropped out of the points positions as a result. Marcus Grönholm's car started reliably but for the last two stages the reigning world champion was left without power steering or differential pressure. He'd also damaged his rear wheel alignment on the day's first test when he clipped a rock. Reliability issues aside, both drivers have been more satisfied with their cars' handling after changes to the differential settings yesterday evening.
Sporting: Didier Auriol moved ahead of Tommi Mäkinen on today's opening test after the Finn hit mechanical problems, but the Frenchman's 206 lost turbo boost on the following test and he dropped to the bottom half of the top ten. His and Mäkinen's difficulties benefited Marcus Grönholm, though - the reigning world champion moved into fourth, before his late power steering and differential problems dropped him back to sixth.
Quotes: Marcus Grönholm said: ăIf we hadn't clipped the rock on the first stage we could have been closer to Carlos, because it knocked the rear wheel alignment out by quite a lot. The power steering problem was the worst, though - it's not like a normal car when you lose power steering - it's really physical to drive. Up to that point, though, the car was feeling better than it did yesterday. I think the differential changes have made a good difference.
Technical: Hyundai's two Accent WRC2s have been generally reliable today, although both Alister McRae and Kenneth Eriksson picked up road penalties this morning as the team's mechanics modified the exhaust system to prevent a repeat of yesterday's fires. McRae was six minutes late out of first service accordingly, while Eriksson was one minute late at the same control.
Sporting: Both Alister McRae and Kenneth Eriksson have been generally satisfied with progress today, although both drivers remain disappointed that yesterday's problems cost them the chance of points finishes. They were each capable of setting respectable times, though, and they moved towards the fringes of the top ten as a result.
Quotes: Alister McRae said: ăThe car's just as good as it as yesterday. Our times make sense, and I know if we hadn't had the fire then we'd be looking towards fighting for a point or two. It's a bit hard to keep your motivation in situations like this, but we have to keep trying.
Kenneth Eriksson said: ăI've actually been a bit disappointed on some stages, because the car feels strong and then the time isn't quite as good as I expect. The roads have been very fast today, though - it's certainly been exciting for us.
Technical: Armin Schwarz was less than satisfied with his Octavia's handling on the faster sections of this morning's opening three stages, but neither he or Bruno Thiry suffered any substantial mechanical problems. Both cars were subsequently damaged, though, when a local fire track crashed in the Santa Rose de Calamuchita service area, and they took no further part in proceedings.
Sporting: Both Skodas retired in the Santa Rosa de Calamuchita service area after a local fire tender, responding to a fire near the finish of SS11, lost control and crashed. It clipped Skoda's Engineering Director with Responsibility for Motorsport, Dr Jens Pohlmann (54), before toppling onto Thiry's Octavia and sliding into the front of Schwarz's car. Pohlmann suffered head and internal injuries and was taken by ambulance to a nearby helipad, then transferred to helicopter and flown to Cordoba's main hospital. An official team statement later described his condition as 'stable', and he was able to speak to doctors this afternoon. His injuries include broken ribs and a broken pelvis, and some skull trauma. Neither of the Skoda crews was injured in the incident, even though Bruno Thiry was sitting inside his Octavia when it was hit by the fire truck.
Quotes: Bruno Thiry said: ăI was just sitting inside the car and then I saw the truck coming towards me very quickly. I suppose I'm lucky to be unhurt but obviously everyone in the whole team is shocked and sad. We just hope that Mr Pohlmann will be okay soon.
Gabriel Pozzo continues to lead the Group N category for more standard machinery in his Mitsubishi Lancer. His nearest rival, multiple category champion Gustavo Trelles, is more than three minutes adrift. Pozzo has enjoyed a relatively troublefree day - his only worry was slightly soft suspension on this morning's first loop of stages.
1 McRae Ford Focus WRC 2:58:36,3
2 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 2:59:13,4
3 Sainz Ford Focus RS WRC 3:00:02,5
4 Solberg Subaru Impreza WRC 3:01:18, 2
5 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3:01:34,6
6 Gronholm Peugeot 206 WRC 3:02:31,1
7 Delecour Ford Focus RS WRC 3:02:50,7
8 Loix Mitsubishi Carisma GT 3:03:03,9
9 Auriol Peugeot 206 WRC 3:04:43,4
10 Arai Subaru Impreza WRC 3:06:07,3
1 Pozzo Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3:11:50,8
2 Trelles Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3:15:09,3
3 Ligato Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3:15:36,3
SS11 Schwarz Skoda Octavia WRC Service area accident
SS11 Thiry Skoda Octavia WRC Service area accident
SS7 Rovanpera Peugeot 206 WRC Suspension
SS9 - Burns, SS10 - McRae, SS11 - Burns, SS12 - McRae, SS13 - Burns, SS14 - Burns, SS15 - Makinen
SS 9, S. R. de Calamuchita - S. Agustin 1 26.10km
1 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 15:22,6
2 McRae Ford Focus WRC 15:22,8
3 Gronholm Peugeot 206 WRC 15:24,8
4 Auriol Peugeot 206 WRC 15:25,1
5 Sainz Ford Focus RS WRC 15:25,5
SS 10, San Agustin - Villa General Belgrano 12.65km
1 McRae Ford Focus WRC 9:19,2
2 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 9:20,4
3 Sainz Ford Focus RS WRC 9:22,6
4 Delecour Ford Focus RS WRC 9:23,7
5 Gronholm Peugeot 206 WRC 9:26,7
SS 11, Amboy - S. Rosa de Calamuchita 1 17.48km
1 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 9:13,6
2 McRae Ford Focus WRC 9:16,3
3 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9:20,3
4 Gronholm Peugeot 206 WRC 9:21,2
5 Delecour Ford Focus RS WRC 9:22,9
SS 12, S. R. de Calamuchita - S. Agustin 2 26.10km
1 McRae Ford Focus WRC 15:10,4
2 Gronholm Peugeot 206 WRC 15:10,5
3 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 15:14,2
4 Sainz Ford Focus RS WRC 15:17,2
5 Auriol Peugeot 206 WRC 15:17,8
SS 13, Las Bajadas - Villa del Dique 16.42km
1 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 8:48,3
2 McRae Ford Focus WRC 8:48,9
3 Sainz Ford Focus RS WRC 8:52,8
4 Auriol Peugeot 206 WRC 8:53,2
5 Delecour Ford Focus RS WRC 8:53,5
SS 14, Amboy - S. Rosa de Calamuchita 2 17.48km
1 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 9:09,2
2 McRae Ford Focus WRC 9:14,6
3 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9:16,8
4 Sainz Ford Focus RS WRC 9:17,6
5 Delecour Ford Focus RS WRC 9:17,7
SS 15, Camping General San Martin 4.20km
1 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3:04,1
2 Solberg Subaru Impreza WRC 3:04,3
3 A.McRae Hyundai Accent WRC 3:04,8
4 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 3:05,7
5 McRae Ford Focus WRC 3:06,1
End of Leg 1
Ford's Colin McRae has dominated the opening day of the fifth round of the FIA World Rally Championship, the Rally Argentina. Having set two fastest times on yesterday's evening's superspecials on the outskirts of Cordoba, the Scot topped the timesheets on today's first three stages to open up an advantage of nearly a minute.
The battles are much closer behind the 1995 world champion, with Richard Burns, Tommi Mäkinen and Carlos Sainz involved in a scrap for second overall and the Peugeots of Didier Auriol and Marcus Grönholm recovering after slow starts. With mist and low cloud an ever-present threat, and occasional damp, muddy patches on the roads, the South American terrain has provided a stern test for the sport's top stars.
Technical: The Focus WRC01s have suffered no major mechanical problems today, although team mechanics had to repair François Delecour's example after he rolled on the day's first stage.
Sporting: Colin McRae has been in inspired form today, as the Scot followed up his two fastest times at yesterday evening's superspecial to quickly build a lead of more than half a minute. His team-mate Carlos Sainz fought off the pain of his back injury to hold a top six place for much of the day. The third Focus, driven by François Delecour, did not fare as well - barely two kilometres into today's opening stage, the Frenchman was caught out by a deep rut in a hairpin and put the car on its roof. Spectators returned the Focus onto its wheels but Delecour lost further time when he had to cope with a broken windscreen.
Quotes: Colin McRae said: ăIt's been going quite well. I was actually a little surprised on today's first stage, because I thought our time would be just respectable and it was way quicker than anyone else. Our lead looks good already but this is the sort of rally where you could lose it easily by clipping a rock. We can't relax yet, although I have to admit today's gone much better than I expected
Carlos Sainz said: ăThe fog on today's first stage was very bad and I lost a bit of time there. My back problem makes my leg sore and although the painkillers are helping, it's far from perfect. All I can do is keep fighting.
Technical: Richard Burns suffered power steering problems on today's third stage, and then he lost the rear brakes on his Impreza WRC2001 on the following test. He hit further power steering dramas on the day's final pair of stages. The other Impreza drivers - Petter Solberg and Toshihiro Arai - reported no significant technical problems, although Solberg felt his choice of tyres for the middle loop of stages was too soft.
Sporting: Richard Burns eased ahead of his team-mate Petter Solberg this morning, despite spinning in fifth gear on today's first stage. The Briton quickly became embroiled in the frantic battle for second overall, and fastest time on today's fourth stage moved him 15 seconds clear of Tommi Mäkinen in that position. Solberg, meanwhile, has been concentrating on staying relaxed and paying little attention to the timesheets as he strives to gain mileage and score a morale-boosting finish
Quotes: Richard Burns said: ăThe fog was pretty bad this morning. On the first stage, there was a left-right combination of corners and I went into the 'left' too quickly. Fortunately the road was wide enough to do a complete spin because we were in fifth gear at the time
Petter Solberg said: ăThe fog was difficult because I haven't done much rallying in such low visibility. But I'm quite relaxed with the way I'm driving. I promised myself beforehand that I wouldn't keep looking at the times and that's what I'm doing.
Toshihiro Arai said: ăIt's interesting to follow Colin (McRae) on the road because he's taking some big risks. Four or five times today I've found big rocks in the middle of the road where he's cut a corner!
Technical: Tommi Mäkinen's Lancer Evolution has been reliable today, but Freddy Loix was forced to perform running repairs on his example after he damaged its suspension on today's first pair of stages.
Sporting: Tommi Mäkinen felt that running first on the road today put him at a disadvantage, although he was second quickest on this morning's opening test regardless. The Finn lost time to Colin McRae but seemed able to swap seconds with his rivals for second overall. He was unable to resist Richard Burns's mid-leg charge but Mäkinen was able to battle with Carlos Sainz for third overall. Freddy Loix, meanwhile, lost time when he hit a rock on today's first stage and bent a steering arm and the rear suspension. The Belgian was pleased with tweaks to his car's differential settings for the afternoon tests, but then he rolled on the day's penultimate stage and lost time as he waited for spectators to return the Lancer onto its wheels.
Quotes: Tommi Mäkinen said: ăI'm sure the road was getting better for people further down the field this morning, because for us it was quite hard-packed and even polished. We know from our test that a few cars can break up the surface just a little and you end up getting more grip. But the times still aren't bad, so we can just keep trying.
Freddy Loix said: ăIn today's first stage, I came round a long corner and there was a rock in the road. We just couldn't avoid it and it bent a steering arm and damaged the rear suspension. It took time for me to get used to it, because the car was pulling to the right. Our roll was really silly too - we came to a hairpin, pulled the handbrake and it just went over slowly.
Technical: All three Peugeot 206 WRC drivers reported technical problems this morning. Didier Auriol was less than satisfied with his car's throttle response, while Marcus Grönholm's example broke its wastegate after 7km of the first stage, leaving the world champion down on power for much of the morning. Harri Rovanperä's car suffered gearbox problems on downshifts, spoiling the Finn's concentration as he came into corners. He suffered steering problems on the second loop of stages as well, and then retired with suspension damage after the day's penultimate stage.
Sporting: Didier Auriol openly admits that he doesn't like driving in fog but the 1994 world champion was top Peugeot for much of this morning nevertheless. Second fastest time on the day's second stage lifted him to fifth, just ahead of team-mate Harri Rovanperä, but then the Swedish Rally winner fought back in today's middle loop of tests to lead the French manufacturer's charge in fifth. But when his car broke a bottom arm in SS7 he was forced to retire. Marcus Grönholm's technical problems left the Finn frustrated and out of the points this morning but once his turbo was fixed, he charged back towards the top six.
Quotes: Marcus Grönholm said: ăThe car just started to lose turbo pressure this morning. It's very frustrating, because the mist on last night's superspecial meant we'd already lost time to Colin and then he went very fast first thing today as well. We need to get our reliability right and then I'm sure we can push. It's not over yet, but Colin's too far ahead already.
Didier Auriol said: ăThis rally is much more pleasant when the conditions are nice - I don't like driving in fog and this morning was pretty bad! But we're still in contention - Colin's going very quickly, but we can fight with the rest of the guys for second at least. The car's handling isn't perfect, though - we need to experiment with some differential settings.
Technical: Armin Schwar'z Octavia WRC bent a right-front upright on this morning's first pair of stages, but otherwise his and Bruno Thiry's machines have proven generally reliable on their first outing in Argentina.
Sporting: Armin Schwarz has found the Argentina stages difficult to master on his first visit to the South American event. The German admits that his pacenotes here need refining and he lost time when he bent his Octavia's suspension this morning. Two punctures in SS7 didn't help his cause either. Bruno Thiry has had an eventful day - the Belgian clipped a rock on today's opening stage, then spun in SS4 and suffered a heavy landing in SS6. The latter incident punctured his left-front tyre but Michelin's ATS mousse system prevented any serious time loss.
Quotes: Armin Schwarz said: ăIt's been difficult, but all I can do is keep enjoying myself and driving. At the high altitude here the engine feels down on power, but I guess everyone feels the same. I'm finding it hard to keep my bearings, though, because a lot of the scenery looks the same and when we did the recce, it was foggy anyway.
Bruno Thiry said: ăWe've had a few moments. When we hit the rock this morning it knocked the tracking of the right-rear wheel out of line, and the heavy landing could have been quite serious. We basically landed off the road
Technical: Hyundai's two Accent WRC2s started reliably but both Alister McRae and Kenneth Eriksson hit problems this afternoon. McRae's warning light flashed intermittently this morning. But in the day's last stage both cars broke rear tailpipes and caught fire. McRae lost seven minutes after he and navigator David Senior stopped twice to put out the flames.
Sporting: Alister McRae started strongly, setting top six times this morning. The Scot lost time with his master switch problem but he still occupied a top ten placing until his fire on the day's last stage. Kenneth Eriksson was unable to explain a loss of pace this morning but once an engine sensor was replaced the Swede charged, matching his team-mate's speed to move back towards the top ten. Then an a ccident (caused by fluctuating differential pressure) broke the rear tailpipe and Eriksson fought against smoke inside the cabin to bring the car back to service.
Quotes: Alister McRae said: ăThe fire was really frustrating. We didn't hit anything, the tailpipe just came loose and it's cost us any chance of a point. It's such a shame because the car had been setting reasonable times when it's working properly.
Kenneth Eriksson said: ăIt was hard to get the car to the end of the stage because the flames were a metre and a half high. Staffan (Parmander) and I were both leaning out of the car being sick for the last 500 metres because the smoke was so bad.
There has been a close fight for honours in the Group N category for more standard machinery. Local driver Gabriel Pozzo has set the pace on the stages, but when his Lancer refused to fire up in service it Marcos Ligato back the class lead, but Pozzo fought back to reclaim the advantage before the day's end. Other fancied Group N runners hit problems: Stig Blomqvist retired with engine failure, while category stalwart Gustavo Trelles lost time with a small accident after suffering brake failure.
1 McRae Ford Focus WRC 1:48:18,0
2 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 1:48:59,4
3 Sainz Ford Focus RS WRC 1:49:15,3
4 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 1:49:18,9
5 Auriol Peugeot 206 WRC 1:49:53,0
6 Gronholm Peugeot 206 WRC 1:50:03,3
7 Solberg Subaru Impreza WRC 1:50:08,0
8 Loix Mitsubishi Carisma GT 1:51:29,1
9 Delecour Ford Focus RS WRC 1:51:52,3
10 Thiry Skoda Octavia WRC 1:52:36,9
1 Pozzo Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 1:55:53.4
2 Trelles Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 1:58:41.6
3 Beltran Subaru Impreza WRC 1:59:17.3
SS1 - McRae, SS2 - McRae, SS3 - McRae, SS4 - McRae, SS5 - McRae, SS6 - Burns, SS7 - Sainz, SS8 - McRae
SS 1, Complejo Pro-Racing Lane A 3.44km
1 McRae Ford Focus WRC 2:27,9
2 Sainz Ford Focus RS WRC 2:30,6
3 Solberg Subaru Impreza WRC 2:31,7
4 Delecour Ford Focus RS WRC 2:31,9
5 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 2:32,2
SS 2, Complejo Pro-Racing Lane B 3.44km
1 McRae Ford Focus WRC 2:25,1
2 Sainz Ford Focus RS WRC 2:27,7
3 Solberg Subaru Impreza WRC 2:28,9
4 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 2:29,8
5 A.McRae Hyundai Accent WRC 2:30,5
SS 3, La Falda - Rio Ceballos 29.96km
1 McRae Ford Focus WRC 22:34,1
2 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 22:51,3
3 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 22:56,9
4 Auriol Peugeot 206 WRC 23:00,3
5 Sainz Ford Focus RS WRC 23:04,1
SS 4, Ascochinga - La Cumbre 1 28.83km
1 McRae Ford Focus WRC 18:39,9
2 Auriol Peugeot 206 WRC 18:43,5
3 Sainz Ford Focus RS WRC 18:43,9
4 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 18:49,8
5 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 18:50,0
SS 5, Capilla del Monte - San Marcos Sierra 23.02km
1 McRae Ford Focus WRC 17:09,1
2 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 17:14,7
3 Gronholm Peugeot 206 WRC 17:18,0
4 Rovanpera Peugeot 206 WRC 17:20,5
5 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 17:28,9
SS 6, San Marcos Sierra - Charbonier 9.61km
1 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 6:33,6
2 McRae Ford Focus WRC 6:34,7
3 Rovanpera Peugeot 206 WRC 6:36,5
4 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6:37,0
5 Gronholm Peugeot 206 WRC 6:37,1
SS 7, La Cumbre - Agua de Oro 23.46km
1 Sainz Ford Focus RS WRC 19:45,8
2 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 19:52,5
3 Delecour Ford Focus RS WRC 19:53,3
4 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 19:56,5
5 Auriol Peugeot 206 WRC 20:00,7
SS 8, Ascochinga - La Cumbre 2 28.83km
1 McRae Ford Focus WRC 18:24.2
2 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 18:25.7
3 Sainz Ford Focus RS WRC 18:32.5
4 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 18:34.2
5 Gronholm Peugeot 206 WRC 18:34.9
World rallying's top drivers are likely to face mixed conditions on the FIA World Rally Championship's visit to South America, the Rally Argentina, which starts from Cordoba later this evening. The reconnaissance period for the event (the fifth round of this year's series) has been held in both rain and sunshine and although yesterday's final shakedown test took place in bright, dry weather, showers have been forecast for tomorrow's first full day of competition.
Mitsubishi driver Tommi Mäkinen starts the event with a six-point cushion over Carlos Sainz in the drivers' championship standings, but both can expect a backlash from three of the widely-tipped contenders, Marcus Grönholm (20 points adrift), Richard Burns (21 points adrift) and Colin McRae (24 points behind).
The gravel stages in Argentina are among the highest and fastest in the entire world championship, but crews will start the action this evening with two short superspecial stages on the outskirts of host town Cordoba.
MITSUBISHI (1st - 40 points)
Technical: The Lancer Evolution is basically unchanged from the specification used in Portugal, although testing in Cyprus, between Catalunya and this event, has at least allowed the team to rack up some dry gravel mileage.
Sporting: Four-time world champion and current series leader Tommi Mäkinen will be supported by Belgian Freddy Loix in the second Lancer as usual. The event marks the Belgian's 50th start in a World Rally Championship event and his achievement was marked by a presentation at the team's pre-event press conference. Mitsubishi announced yesterday evening that former SEAT driver Toni Gardemeister will drive a third Lancer for the team in Finland and New Zealand, and that Japanese driver Katsuhiko Taguchi will do the same in Cyprus.
Quotes: Tommi Mäkinen said: ăI've got a good record here but I don't know what the secret is. Although the stages can be fast there can also be tricky, twisty, rocky sections where it's important to get a good rhythm and keep a smooth driving style. I'm hopeful of a good result, of course, because we've already shown how good the Lancer can be on gravel this year.
Freddy Loix said: ăThis has been the first time in three years that I've seen such dry conditions here. I've got a good feeling for the car - the testing clearly went well because we couldn't really improve on the set-up for the car. My confidence has been building this year because the revised rear suspension on the Lancer makes it easier to drive.
FORD (2nd - 22 points)
Technical: Ford has made no substantial changes to the Focus RS WRC01 for this event.
Sporting: Carlos Sainz and Colin McRae are nominated for manufacturers' points, with François Delecour fighting for drivers' points only. However, the Spaniard's participation was cast in doubt by a back injury that forced him to miss part of the reconnaissance. Ford's physio and doctor have been trying to ease the Spaniard's discomfort, but he will only be able to start the event after taking painkillers. There remains the risk that even trying to complete a full day's competition could aggravate the condition further and jeopardise the Spaniard's participation in the coming rounds.
Quotes: Carlos Sainz said: ăI've felt better. The problem is basically a disc in my back that is pressing on the sciatic nerve, and it's very painful. The problem seemed to go away on Tuesday and I even felt like taking a run, but it started to give me pain again yesterday and this morning it was hard even to get up, or find a comfortable seating position.
Colin McRae said: ăThe position on the road will be our biggest problem, particularly on the opening day. Because we haven't scored any points this year we're running further down the starting order and that means we'll probably have to deal with rocks pulled into the road by the guys at the front. If it's wet, then the roads can cut up as well. But we just have to try, see what happens and hope our road position improves.
PEUGEOT (3rd - 20 points)
Technical: The three 206 WRCs will start this event in essentially the same technical configuration used in Portugal. The 'evolution' version of the car is still scheduled to appear on the next event in Cyprus, providing sufficient supplies of spare parts can be sourced in time.
Sporting: Reigning FIA World Rally Champion Marcus Grönholm and 1994 title-holder Didier Auriol are rejoined by Harri Rovanperä for this event. The Finn's programme with the French manufacturer was expanded to include all gravel rallies after he won the Swedish Rally and led the Rally of Portugal. Grönholm and Auriol remain Peugeot's nominees for manufacturers' points, however.
Quotes: Marcus Grönholm said: ăWe need to start winning, but I have quite a good feeling here. Depending on the weather the position on the road could make a difference, but we'll just have to push hard and see what happens. We certainly can't let Tommi get any further away in the championship because it's already looking difficult.
Didier Auriol said: ăI really like this rally, but the recce was quite difficult because we had a lot of rain. The superspecial is not really the type of stage I like either, so for me the rally really starts tomorrow.
SUBARU (4th - 8 points)
Technical: Subaru has tested extensively to improve the reliability and performance of the Impreza WRC2001 after a difficult start to the season. Small engine modifications, including a revised airbox, are said to have brought benefits.
Sporting: Richard Burns and Petter Solberg are nominated to score manufacturers' points for Subaru in Argentina, with Japanese driver Toshihiro Arai nominated for drivers' points only. The team's other regular driver, Markko Martin, is unlikely to appear again until the Acropolis Rally in mid-June.
Quotes: Richard Burns said: ăI really need to win the next three rallies if I'm to get my title bid back on track but as always, it's not going to be easy. Even though we took a victory here last year it's the sort of rally that can catch you out easily and the weather conditions look pretty variable too. Our position on the road probably won't be ideal either, but the car's felt pretty good in testing so all we can do is try to get as far up the order on the first day as
Petter Solberg said: ăI'm tired of people asking me if the pressure's getting to me. Of course there's pressure but I know in myself what I have to do and I'm confident that I can achieve my goals. I'm just going to go out there, set a comfortable pace and not pay any attention to what everyone else is doing. That way I can stay more focused on the driving, without worrying about having to finish, pacing myself or fighting for a top placing.
HYUNDAI (5th - 8 points)
Technical: Hyundai's two Accent WRC2s are similar to the specification that was used in Portugal, although the Motor Sport Developments-run team has tested revised suspension and transmission for the rougher conditions the car will face in Argentina, and on the next two rallies in Cyprus and Greece.
Sporting: Alister McRae will be rejoined by Hyundai's Swedish veteran Kenneth Eriksson for this event. The team's asphalt specialist Piero Liatti has been linked to an appearance in an Accent in Germany early in July, but team sources insist that such an outing remains subject to suitable budget being found.
Quotes: Alister McRae said: ăWe've basically tested for rough surfaces so we've made good changes to the suspension. And the hydraulics in the differentials are working more efficiently, which should help us if - as expected - the rain falls and the conditions get slippery.
Kenneth Eriksson said: ăIt was great to get back into the car after a while off. I've very happy with my set-up now, because the differential control has improved and we spent time working on the chassis. It's hard to say what we can achieve here but I'd like to think we can look towards the points.
SKODA (6th - 6 points)
Technical: Skoda's Octavia WRCs (seen in South America for the first time on this event) are similar to those that were used in Portugal. The Czech team continues to work on a heavily revised engine in testing, but it elected not to use the new unit in Argentina because the high altitude would make it more difficult to accurately rate the improvements. A debut on the Cyprus Rally is still possible, although team officials are determined to introduce the engine only when its reliability is proven.
Sporting: Armin Schwarz and Bruno Thiry will drive the team's two Octavia WRCs as usual.
Quotes: Armin Schwarz said: ăI've still got a lot to learn about this rally. The weather on the recce was pretty bad and it was hard to make good pacenotes in such poor visibility. But given reliability, I think the stages here should suit our car. It's important for me to learn the stages for next year.
Bruno Thiry said: ăI like this rally. It's quite fast and yet rough in places - like a cross between Portugal and Greece. I think we've got a pretty good set-up for this event - we improved the suspension during a test in Greece recently and we made small changes during the shakedown here. If it does rain, though, conditions will be very slippery and the level of grip will vary from corner to corner.
CITROEN (0 points)
After its strong showing on the Xsara WRC's debut in Catalunya, Citroen has concentrated on testing the car in preparation for its world championship gravel debut, on the Acropolis Rally in Greece next month. The team is not present in Argentina.
Rally Argentina is not a round of either FIA Teams Cup or the FIA Super 1600 Cup, so the leading entries beyond the factory World Rally Cars come from contenders in the FIA Cup for Drivers of Production Cars. Many of the leading challengers, including current series front-runner Gabriel Pozzo, multiple category champion Gustavo Trelles and former world champion Stig Blomqvist will be present. That trio will drive Mitsubishis, but they could face competition from local Subaru drivers Roberto Sanchez and Claudio Menzi.
Leg 1, Thursday 3rd May (Super Special only)
SS1 19:15 Complejo Pro-Racing Lane A 3.44km
SS2 19:15 Complejo Pro-Racing Lane B 3.44km
Leg 1 cont, Friday 4th May
SS3 09:22 La Falda - Rio Ceballos 29.96km
SS4 10:40 Ascochinga - La Cumbre 1 28.83km
SS5 12:08 Capilla del Monte - San Marcos Sierra 23.02km
SS6 12:39 San Marcos Sierra - Charbonier 9.61km
SS7 14:15 La Cumbre - Agua de Oro 23.46km
SS8 15:08 Ascochinga - La Cumbre 2 28.83km
Leg 2, Saturday 5th May
SS9 09:16 S. R. de Calamuchita - S. Agustin 1 26.10km
SS10 09:59 San Agustin - Villa General Belgrano 12.65km
SS11 10:57 Amboy - S. Rosa de Calamuchita 1 17.48km
SS12 12:16 S. R. de Calamuchita - S. Agustin 2 26.10km
SS13 12:59 Las Bajadas - Villa del Dique 16.42km
SS14 13:42 Amboy - S. Rosa de Calamuchita 2 17.48km
SS15 16:18 Camping General San Martin 4.20km
Leg 3, Sunday 6th May
SS16 09:06 Cura Brochero - Cienaga de Allende 13.63km
SS17 09:47 El Mirador - San Lorenzo 1 20.65km
SS18 11:21 Chamico - Ambul 24.60km
SS19 12:05 El Mirador - San Lorenzo 2 20.65km
SS20 13:48 Mina Clavero - Giulio Cesare 22.26km
SS21 14:35 El Condor - Copina 16.77km