The World Rally Championship Mailing List is brought to you by:
Digital Rally - 'get virtually sideways'
Please also support the World Rally Discussion List:

2000 Neste Rally Finland
Round 9 of the FIA World Rally Championship 17-20 August

End of Leg 3, Final
Saturday, 19th August 2000
Extract from Official FIA Press Release

A starring drive on the 1998 Neste Rally Finland brought Marcus Gronholm to the attention of Peugeot and today he repaid that faith with his third win of the season and his first on his home rally. It was Peugeot's first win on this event since Timo Salonen in 1986 and it promotes Gronholm to the lead of the FIA World Rally Championship for the first time in his career. With Richard Burns not finishing in Finland, Colin McRae has moved closer to his British rival while the Ford team has now passed Subaru to lead the Manufacturers' series. Until Burns crashed out of the event at the start of the second day the battle for the lead had been incredibly close but the statistics still show that Gronholm led from start to finish.

Peugeot was the only team to have all of its factory-run cars still in the rally at the finish although a final stage roll for Francois Delecour nearly ruined that result. Marcus Gronholm took a crushing win for the French team while his cousin, Sebastian Lindholm, drove superbly on his first event for the team to take fifth. There were a few scares in the French camp today. Gronholm suffered a front-end vibration on the first batch of stages and found the car pulling to the left, while Delecour's car had a gearbox change after suffering some form of transmission problem before the final two stages. Despite losing two minutes with his final stage roll, Delecour still managed to take sixth and the final FIA World Rally Championship point. "I'm obviously very happy with this result," said Gronholm. "The Finnish fans have supported me all the way and I'm very grateful to them for that. There's still a long way to go in the championship but now maybe we've got a chance to win it this year. We've shown here that Peugeot's reliability is now very, very good."

Fastest time on the opening two stages today brought Colin McRae right onto the heels of second placed Harri Rovanpera. His pace was likely to have taken him past the Finn even before the Toyota driver received a road penalty. McRae made good use of the fact that the second stage today is not being run in its usual direction and therefore previous experience is not such an advantage. "The final two stages are much faster so we will need to press hard," said McRae. At the moment there is some confusion about Harri's penalty but if we beat him on stage times, then for us it won't matter anyway." Unfortunately McRae then dropped 13 seconds to Rovanpera on SS22, coinciding with the stewards halving the Finn's road penalty, and found himself back in third once again. On the same stage Carlos Sainz was further delayed by an electrical fire. McRae regained second with fastest time on the final stage. "I like that stage and I remember most of it so my confidence was high. Harri's been tough to beat. The championship is still a long way off and we have to consider the strength of the Peugeot now. However we'll also be strong in Cyprus and there's still everything to play for."

Tommi Makinen's day got off to an eventful start with a minor oil leak reported on the opening stage, and engine that cut out at the start of the next and then a high-speed collision with a mail box on the third. The five-time winner of this rally has still not found his true form, despite the improved new version of the Mitsubishi Lancer, but he scored enough points to keep him well in contention for a fifth consecutive FIA World Championship title with five events still to go. Part of his problem on this event has been that co-driver Risto Mannisenmaki has been competing in severe pain from a back injury sustained after a heavy landing yesterday morning. With so many jumps, this event is relentless in its pressure on a co-driver and despite extra padding in his seat to cushion the impact, Mannisenmaki has admitted that there have been times when he has had to ask Makinen to take things a little easier that he would have liked.

Juha Kankkunen broke a wheel rim on the second of today's stages, but survived without the dramas of yesterday. He promised to set fastest time on the final two tests in his quest to regain a points scoring finish. Scratch time on SS22 (ironically where he had all his problems yesterday) took him past Didier Auriol's ailing SEAT and into seemingly easy striking distance of Alister McRae's Hyundai. He couldn't quite pull off his promise of two fastest times, but still did enough on the final stage to pass McRae and take a possibly crucial two championship points for Subaru.

With four of today's five stages being repeats of those run yesterday, the power-sapping nature of the roads was made even worse for Hyundai, whose engine is still being developed. Kenneth Eriksson also felt that SS21 was too rutted to have been used today. "It's too badly damaged and it's a very difficult stage," he said. Alister McRae's car developed an odd electrical malady that manifested itself by turning the windscreen wipers and other items on and off almost at random. On the penultimate stage he suffered power steering failure and that effectively put an end to any chance he had of keeping Kankkunen at bay.

Didier Auriol began today's leg in seventh place but slipped back after a recurrence of the handling problems that had hit him on Friday. The feeling isn't so good today," he said. "The problem is that there are so many electronic items in a modern car that it could be anything that is causing the problem. Now I must try my best to maintain my position as the final two stages are the most difficult and demanding of the event." Observers reported that the SEAT's engine was consuming oil and co-driver Denis Giraudet added a full litre of lubricant before SS21. The team changed the complete drive-shaft and suspension sets on Auriol's car before the final two stages and the Frenchman promised to attack hard to try and stay clear of both Alister McRae and Juha Kankkunen. Unfortunately he suffered a major time loss on SS22 and immediately fell down the order, out of the points.

Other teams
Unusually this event managed to throw some wild cards into the overall positions with third placed Harri Rovanpera the highest non-factory entry. The Toyota driver might have hung on for second had he not collected a time penalty for being late at the start of SS20 and then damaging is suspension on the stage itself. The initial 20 second penalty dropped him behind second placed Colin McRae although it was later halved to 10 seconds and he regained the place. The reigning FIA Group N Champion Gustavo Trelles retired this morning, handing in his time card at the exit to parc ferme. The Uruguayan driver has struggled to find performance on this event and was a long way out of a points scoring position. Group N fell to Jani Paasonen, ahead of Jusso Pykalisto while third placed Manfred Stohl extends his series lead over Trelles. With Hamed Al Wahaibi an early retirement, the FIA Teams Cup fell to the Toyota Team Saudi Arabia entry for Abdullah Bakhashab, well clear of Frederic Dor's own entry in a Subaru. TTSA now takes the series lead, with F Dor Rally Team tied in second place with the Spike Subaru entry for Toshihiro Arai, who did not enter this round.

Tyre facts
This weekend's result in Finland was a particularly satisfying performance for Michelin. Not only was Gronholm's success the French firm's sixth of the year from nine rounds, but it was also its third consecutive start-to-finish victory on gravel. Victory for Peugeot- Michelin was compounded by Group N success with Jani Paasonen (Mitsubishi-Michelin), while Michelin's partners return to the top of both the Drivers' and Manufacturers' points tables with Gronholm and Ford.

After his frustration yesterday, Juha Kankkunen laid the ghost of Ouninpohja by setting fastest time when the stage was repeated. Yesterday a damaged tyre forced him to abandon a possible podium finish but today the same stage brought his Subaru back into the championship points. A broken wheel rim on SS20 proved to be no major problem thanks to Pirelli's EMI anti-deflation system that helped maintain the tyre's shape and performance.
Unofficial Results at the end of Leg 3
1 Gronholm Peugeot 206 3:22:37,1
2 McRae Ford Focus 3:23:43,3
3 Rovanpera Toyota Corolla 3:23:46,7
4 Makinen Mitsu Lancer 3:24:15,8
5 Lindholm Peugeot 206 3:24:43,1
6 Delecour Peugeot 206 3:27:42,1
7 Hagstrom Toyota Corolla 3:27:53,6
8 Kankkunen Subaru Impreza 3:28:30,0
9 A.McRae Hyundai Accent 3:28:46,2
10 Martin Toyota Corolla 3:29:27,7

Group N
1 Paasonen Mitsu Carisma 3:37:25,8
2 Pykälistö Mitsu Carisma 3:38:49,2
3 Stohl Mitsu Lancer 3:39:05,2

Teams Cup
1 Bakhashab Toyota Corolla 3:50:37,0 Toyota Team Saudi Arabia
2 Dor Subaru Impreza 3:56:41,4 F Dor Rally Team
Provisional FIA World Championship Points
FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers (unofficial positions after 9 of 14 rounds):
Gronholm (FIN) 44
Burns (GB) 38
McRae (GB) 36
Sainz (E) 27
Makinen (FIN) 26
Kankkunen (FIN) 18

FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers (unofficial positions after 9 of 14 rounds)
Subaru 60
Ford 63
Peugeot 54
Mitsubishi 33
Skoda 8
Hyundai 5

FIA Cup for Drivers of Production Cars (unofficial positions after 9 of 14 rounds):
Stohl (A) 45
Trelles (ROU) 32
Paasonen (FIN) 21
Pozzo (RA) 16
Campos (P) 13
Pykalisto (FIN) 12
Menzi (I) 12

FIA Teams' Cup (unofficial positions after 9 of 14 rounds):
Toyota Team Saudi Arabia 32
Spike Subaru Rally Team 26
F.Dor Rally Team 26
Team Ataken 13
Wisja TV Turning Point Rally Team 10
Arab World Rally Team 10
Stage Winners
SS19 - McRae, SS20 - McRae, SS21 - Gronholm, SS22 - Kankkunen, SS23 - McRae
Leading Retirements
no leading retirements today
Burns - Accident
Loix - Mechanical
Gardemeister - Mechanical
Solberg - Accident
Laukkanen - Mechanical
Tuohino - Accident
Puhakka - Steering
Ipatti - Engine Failure
Menzi - Accident
SS 19 Ehikki 2 19.08 km 1st Car: 08:39
1 McRae Ford Focus 9:26,3
2 Rovanpera Toyota Corolla 9:27,1
3 Gronholm Peugeot 206 9:27,2
4 Makinen Mitsu Lancer 9:30,8
5 Lindholm Peugeot 206 9:32,3
SS 20 Moksi 14.67 km 1st Car: 09:12
1 McRae Ford Focus 7:58,3
2 Gronholm Peugeot 206 8:02,6
3 Sainz Ford Focus 8:07,6
4 Rovanpera Toyota Corolla 8:11,0
5 Martin Toyota Corolla 8:11,2
SS 21 Leustu 2 23.58 km 1st Car: 09:51
1 Gronholm Peugeot 206 11:41,3
2 Rovanpera Toyota Corolla 11:46,1
3 McRae Ford Focus 11:46,3
4 Kankkunen Subaru Impreza 11:48,9
5 Makinen Mitsu Lancer 11:53,9
SS 22 Ouninpohja 2 34.21 km 1st Car: 11:58
1 Kankkunen Subaru Impreza 16:21,3
2 Rovanpera Toyota Corolla 16:23,9
3 Makinen Mitsu Lancer 16:25,1
4 Gronholm Peugeot 206 16:28,5
5 Lindholm Peugeot 206 16:28,8
SS 23 Vaheri 2 25.43 km 1st Car: 13:01
1 McRae Ford Focus 12:13,3
2 Makinen Mitsu Lancer 12:15,8
3 Kankkunen Subaru Impreza 12:17,3
4 Rovanpera Toyota Corolla 12:19,4
5 Sainz Ford Focus 12:21,6
End of Leg 2
Saturday, 19th August 2000
Extract from Official FIA Press Release

A dramatic start to today's second leg south of Jyvaskyla tore the heart out of the battle for victory and left Finland's Marcus Gronholm with what seemed to be an invincible lead over Harri Rovanpera and Colin McRae. Toni Gardemeister, Richard Burns and Freddy Loix all retired between the restart and the end of the day's first stage, turning Gronholm's narrow overnight lead into a much more comfortable advantage.

Not surprisingly rally leader Marcus Gronholm breathed a big sigh of relief at the end of today's first stage as his closest rival retired. However, while the Peugeot team inherited an extra 30 seconds advantage with Burns' retirement, Gronholm can't relax for one moment. "It is important now to keep my rhythm and concentrate on reaching the finish tomorrow," he said. "It's a shame that Richard crashed because I was enjoying the battle between us." Peugeot second nominated driver, Sebastian Lindholm, reported problems with the turbocharger at the end of SS15 and lies in fifth place.

Carlos Sainz started the day running eleventh on the road after being re-seeded overnight by the stewards but the Spaniard was really in an overall position of 30th, having dropped to 110th at one point yesterday. His day as a Ford test driver didn't get off to a good start as he rolled in the opening stage but, unlike many of his rivals, was able to continue. "It was a bit stupid really," he confessed. "I dropped the back of the car into the ditch at a slow speed and it just rolled over. The car looks bad but it's running OK." Team-mate Colin McRae was promoted to third after Burns' retirement and he has seemingly opted for a cautious approach. "With Richard out it's better for me to stay on the safe side and try to ensure I score points. If you look at the tyre tracks from Marcus and Harri you can see that they are still trying very, very hard. I thought it was going to be quite easy to pass Harri but he's proving too tenacious for me to take any big chances."

Freddy Loix was among several drivers to retire from the event on the opening stage today. The Belgian nosed his Carisma off the road after misjudging the required pace over a jump but got going again, only to collide with a rock a few kilometres later. The radiator was damaged and without coolant there was no chance for him to continue in the event. Team leader Tommi Makinen should have benefited from Burns' retirement but instead took too soft a tyre for the first three stages and was unable to capitalise on his rival's misfortune.

Toni Gardemeister completed yesterday's first leg in tenth place with the new SEAT Cordoba WRC E3, but he didn't get as far as the first service park today. With just 500m of the 105kms run out to Halli to go the SEAT stopped. "There was no pressure to the fuel pumps," said the young Finn. "It was a really stupid problem." Team director Vicente Aguilera said that an electronic fault had caused the fuel pumps to stop working and was related to a problem that began before yesterday's final stage. "With no service after last night's stage we could not solve it until the car got to Halli this morning," he explained. There was better news today for Didier Auriol, whose car was now handling as it should after a dreadful opening leg.

Alister McRae had his centre differential changed as a precaution at the lunchtime service today, after it had started to become noisy. Kenneth Eriksson felt that the car wasn't getting the maximum power output but otherwise everything was fine in the team. Co-driver Staffan Parmander was thoroughly enjoying himself. "This is one event where the notes have to be absolutely right," he said. "It gives co-driving an extra dimension."

A fifth gear bend immediately after the flying finish of today's first stage claimed Richard Burns and will almost certainly lead to him losing the FIA World Championship lead for the first time since he moved ahead in Portugal. Burns completed the stage without problem but in the tricky braking area before the stop line, Burns lost control of the Subaru and rolled into the trees. The crew emerged shaken but with no serious injuries although the car was far too badly damaged to continue. "We had the corner down as a flat right that tightens and that's exactly what it was. I was just going too fast to get round it." Burns tried everything to slow the car in the fractions of a second available but it rolled several times in a 70 metre stretch of road. Fastest times on SS13 (his first of the event) and SS15 for Juha Kankkunen promoted the veteran Finn to fifth place and then fourth but he was still nearly a minute adrift of the leader. However, just as he began to look as though he could improve even further he punctured on Ouninpohja and it took so long to change the wheel that he dropped to 13th.

Other teams
Harri Rovanpera believes that there is no way that can catch Marcus Gronholm and is now concentrating on staying ahead of Colin McRae for second place. Markko Martin lost his place in the top 10 when he went off for four minutes on SS12 after collecting his second puncture of the day. Yuuso Pikalisto leads the Group N, where Jouko Puhakka retired from second after a track rod broke and folded the right front wheel under the car on stage 12. After stage 17 Abdullah Bakhashab leads the FIA Teams' Cup classification for Toyota Team Saudi Arabia.

Tyre facts
Michelin is clearly pleased with the performance of its products in the changeable conditions that survivors have had to face during today's second leg. Continuing to use the Michelin ZA pattern, as he did on Day 1, Marcus Grönholm has been able to control from in front, while Michelin's partners fill the top 6 places after SS17. Michelin also provisionally leads in Group N with Paasonen (Mitsubishi-Michelin), while the showing of French privateer Olivier Marty - competing for the first time and currently leading the highly competitive A6 class with his Peugeot-Michelin 106 - cannot be overlooked. After SS17, Michelin partners have set five scratch times today with three different drivers.

Although Juha Kankkunen set two fastest times during the day (using both the K and KM pattern tyres) it was outside influences that determined the overall performance of the leading Pirelli crews today. Richard Burns was denied the chance to challenge Marcus Gronholm for the lead and Kankkunen's bid to reach the podium was dashed with a rare puncture on the Ouninpohja stage this afternoon.
Unofficial Results at the end of Leg 2
1 Gronholm Peugeot 206 2:24:33,0
2 Rovanpera Seat Cordoba 2:25:29,2
3 McRae Ford Focus 2:25:46,1
4 Makinen Mitsu Lancer 2:25:58,8
5 Lindholm Peugeot 206 2:26:09,3
6 Delecour Peugeot 206 2:27:22,3
7 Auriol Seat Cordoba 2:28:19,8
8 Hagstrom Toyota Corolla 2:28:34,3
9 A.McRae Hyundai Accent 2:29:12,1
10 Kankkunen Subaru Impreza 2:30:15,0

Group N
1 Paasonen Mitsu Carisma 2:34:24,3
2 Pykälistö Mitsu Carisma 2:35:13,9
3 Stohl Mitsu Lancer 2:36:16,3

Teams Cup
1 Bakhashab Toyota Corolla 2:44:51,1 Toyota Team Saudi Arabia
2 Dor Subaru Impreza 2:48:42,6 F Dor Rally Team
Stage Winners
SS11 - Gronholm, SS12 - Lindholm, SS13 - Kankkunen, SS14 - McRae, SS15 - Kankkunen, SS16 - Gronholm, SS17 - Gronholm, SS18 - Gronholm
Leading Retirements
Burns - Accident
Loix - Mechanical
Gardemeister - Mechanical
Solberg - Accident
Laukkanen - Mechanical
Tuohino - Accident
Puhakka - Steering
Ipatti - Engine Failure
Menzi - Accident
SS 11 Juupajoki 30.34 km 1st Car: 08:07
1 Gronholm Peugeot 206 15:13,8
2 Burns Subaru Impreza 15:18,6
3 Martin Toyota Corolla 15:24,4
4 McRae Ford Focus 15:25,2
5 Lindholm Peugeot 206 15:25,8
SS 12 Vastila 17.43 km 1st Car: 09:25
1 Lindholm Peugeot 206 8:21,7
2 Gronholm Peugeot 206 8:22,7
3 Rovanpera Seat Cordoba 8:23,9
4 Kankkunen Subaru Impreza 8:25,9
5 Sainz Ford Focus 8:26,4
SS 13 Paijalala 12.81 km 1st Car: 10:00
1 Kankkunen Subaru Impreza 6:07,0
2 Gronholm Peugeot 206 6:09,6
3 Rovanpera Seat Cordoba 6:10,8
4 Lindholm Peugeot 206 6:11,6
5 Sainz Ford Focus 6:12,1
SS 14 Ehikki 1 19.08 km 1st Car: 11:56
1 McRae Ford Focus 9:30,2
2 Gronholm Peugeot 206 9:31,7
3 Lindholm Peugeot 206 9:33,1
4 Makinen Mitsu Lancer 9:33,2
5 Rovanpera Seat Cordoba 9:33,7
SS 15 Leustu 1 23.58 km 1st Car: 12:59
1 Kankkunen Subaru Impreza 11:47,1
2 Rovanpera Seat Cordoba 11:48,7
3 Makinen Mitsu Lancer 11:49,1
4 Gronholm Peugeot 206 11:49,8
5 McRae Ford Focus 11:52,2
SS 16 Ouninpohja 1 34.21 km 1st Car: 15:06
1 Gronholm Peugeot 206 16:29,1
2 Rovanpera Seat Cordoba 16:38,0
3 Makinen Mitsu Lancer 16:40,6
4 Lindholm Peugeot 206 16:42,9
5 McRae Ford Focus 16:44,8
SS 17 Vaheri 1 25.43 km 1st Car: 16:09
1 Gronholm Peugeot 206 12:25,2
2 Makinen Mitsu Lancer 12:27,7
3 McRae Ford Focus 12:28,1
4 Sainz Ford Focus 12:29,0
5 Rovanpera Seat Cordoba 12:31,8
SS 18 Killeri 1 2.23 km 1st Car: 20:04
1 Gronholm Peugeot 206 1:08,7
2 Rovanpera Seat Cordoba 1:09,0
3 McRae Ford Focus 1:09,5
4 Makinen Mitsu Lancer 1:09,7
4 Kankkunen Subaru Impreza 1:09,7
End of Leg 1
Friday, 18th August 2000
Extract from Official FIA Press Release

The 'Finnish Grand Prix' has lived up to its reputation for high speed competition and there has been little to choose between the times set by the rally leaders throughout today's opening leg, that ran mainly to the north of Jyvaskyla. Marcus Gronholm was most people's favourite to set the pace and, over the early stages, the Finn has certainly lived up to expectations. Richard Burns has, for the second year running, kept the pressure on the leader despite a considerable difference of local knowledge and the top two drivers in the FIA World Rally Championship have clearly shown why they hold these positions.

Marcus Gronholm set the pace over the day's opening stages although he admitted to visiting the ditch at high speed on the slippery new Konttimaki test (SS5). "I was a bit surprised by a left hander and that caused a problem," he admitted. Gronholm's cousin Sebastian Lindholm is driving the second car on this event and has been playing himself in. "I'm still trying to find the limits of the car and enjoying every single minute of driving ," he said. The third Peugeot is in the hands of team regular Francois Delecour. "I'm please to be on the same pace as Sebastian," he said. "The new gearshift system is working very well. It's incredible how fast the leaders are going."

The Subaru team were cleared to start the event after a scrutineering scare when the cars were initially thought to exceed the maximum permitted width. FIA World Championship leader Richard Burns expected to lose a lot of time because of running first on the road but, thanks to the surface still being a little damp after Tuesday's rain, he was able to stay in touch with the Peugeot of Marcus Gronholm. "I went into a ditch on SS3 and the suspension was a little damaged but otherwise there's no problem," he said. " It's not too bad running first on the road but the next few stages are new and so there's loose gravel there. I've got more speed available but I'm not sure what I can do about Marcus."

The Ford drivers got off to a seemingly steady start over the first stage although Carlos Sainz was soon in trouble on the second. Quite close to the start of the stage the car developed a misfire and would do no more than 30kph. The team radioed instructions to the Spaniard and a change of engine ECU solved the problem but not before Sainz had lost 5 minutes and dropped to 106th place. The Spaniard will continue in the event for testing. Colin McRae took a little while to settle into the groove and completed the first group of stages in eighth place while team-mate Petter Solberg was flying in fourth. "There are no team orders for me," said the Norwegian. "I am allowed to go flat out. That's easy to say but quite difficult to do!" Unfortunately the Norvegian retired in stage 9 after a massive crash. McRae said: "Our pace notes have been perfect but our braking points are a little out." Tapio Laukkanen has taken his first drive in a World Rally Car very carefully and is gradually picking up the pace.

World Champion Tommi Makinen started this event eager to regain his form. He got off to a good start on SS1 but then lost his rhythm on the next when he had to brake hard to avoid the stricken Ford of Carlos Sainz. "The first three stages were very fast and I don't think our gear ratios were right. We also took far too soft a tyre for the second group of stages, it was an unbelievable mistake for me to make. The third group of stages (SS7-9) are the ones I enjoy most on this rally so if I don't go well on them I'll have to ask if it's the car or the driver that's not working properly!" Makinen's team mate Freddy Loix had to slow for a couple of the opening stages after landing heavily on the second and bending the new, lightweight, front end. "When we got to service the engineers discovered that the front of the chassis had been pushed up and the engine and transmission had moved," admitted the Belgian. The car was repaired without time penalties but Loix will have to wait and see if the car's performance has been compromised.
SEAT's debut event with the third evolution Cordoba WRC has not been an easy one so far with both drivers sounding very dejected at the post-stage radio interviews that are such a feature of this event. Both have been unhappy with the performance of the revised engine and, on the second group of stages, the car's handling has been awry. Gardemeister's initial pace was hampered when he suffered a tyre vibration on SS2 while Auriol is riding a knife edge. "I wait until I see the brake marks from the earlier cars and then make sure I brake later. I've had four big moments in the first three stages!" His car's handling was a nightmare during the early afternoon and he lost all pressure to the front differential. " The car is virtually undriveable at the moment," he said at service before SS7. "We don't know what the problem is but we've got to find it - and find it very quickly."

Alister McRae's event hit an early problem when he punctured on SS2 and had to fit the wrong sized tyre/wheel combination for the third stage. "We bent a front rim and so had to put a rear tyre on the front," he said. The Hyundai has been running in fifth and sixth gear for most of the event and is finding the sandy surface saps the engine power. Team-mate Kenneth Eriksson had a bolt in the front suspension fail on SS2. He fixed the problem himself on the road section after the stage. "The car feels good but if I'm not setting top times then I can't be happy," admitted the Swede. The third car, for Australian Michael Guest, escaped a major 'tank-slapper' moment this morning and continued despite a brush with a large rock.

Other teams
Frederic Dor (F Dor Rally Team) already looks to be on course to take maximum points in the FIA Teams Cup section of this event. With pre-event leader Spike Subaru not competing in Finland, the way was already clear for a new leader. However Abdullah Bakhashab (Toyota Team Saudi Arabia) rolled on SS6 and lost a lot of time and Hamed Al Wahaibi's Arab World Rally Team Subaru retired with a broken driveshaft on SS2. Group N is very much a local affair with Jouko Puhakka locked in combat with Mitsubishi rival Jani Paasonen. FIA series leader Manfred Stohl was third, but already falling away, although still well clear of title rival Gustavo Trelles.

Tyre facts
Michelin's WRC partners can be happy about today's first part of the leg, which was led from the beginning by Peugeot-Michelin driver Marcus Grönholm. Teams and drivers have chosen different Michelin patterns throughout the day in order to find the ideal match for the conditions, in search for the tenths of a second that might well make the difference at the end of the rally. On a quite smooth track, Michelin's partners have had no problem with their tyres. As of now (after SS7) Michelin driver (Grönholm) has set the first 5 of the 7 scratch stage times.

For the fifth rally in succession Richard Burns has had to run first on the road for the opening day thanks to his position as FIA World Rally Championship leader. Although today's stages have not been as difficult for the first car as had been feared, the position was still enough to keep Burns out of the fastest time sheets for the first five before he won SS6 and SS7. Pirelli's K pattern tyre was the initial choice although Juha Kankkunen swapped to the KM option in the early afternoon to find better grip on the loose surfaces of the new stages.
Unofficial Results at the end of Leg 1
1 Gronholm Peugeot 206 1:03:22,4
2 Burns Subaru Impreza 1:02:27,3
3 Rovanpera Seat Cordoba 1:03:47,9
4 McRae Ford Focus 1:03:55,7
5 Kankkunen Subaru Impreza 1:04:05,2
6 Makinen Mitsu Lancer 1:04:07,6
7 Lindholm Peugeot 206 1:04:09,7
8 Delecour Peugeot 206 1:04:16,3
9 Martin Toyota Corolla 1:04:22,4
10 Gardemeister Seat Cordoba 1:04:37,4

Group N
1 Paasonen Mitsu Carisma 1:07:52,2
2 Puhakka Mitsu Carisma 1:08:03,0
3 Stohl Mitsu Lancer 1:08:20,5

Teams Cup
1 F Dor Rally Team Dor Subaru Impreza 1:12:48,8
Stage Winners
SS1 - Gronholm, SS2 - Gronholm, SS3 - Gronholm, SS4 - Gronholm, SS5 - Gronholm, SS6 - Burns, SS7 - Burns, SS8 - Gronholm, SS9 - Burns, SS10 - Makinen
Leading Retirements
Solberg (N) - Accident
Al Wahaibi (OM) - Accident
Puras (E)
Pozzo (RA)
7 non seeded drivers
SS 1 Kuohu 7.67 km 1st Car: 10.31
1 Gronholm Peugeot 206 3:44,8
2 Burns Subaru Impreza 3:45,7
3 Rovanpera Toyota Corolla 3:45,8
4 Lindholm Peugeot 206 3:45,9
5 Makinen Mitsu Lancer 3:46,8
SS 2 Parkkola 20.11 km 1st Car: 10:57
1 Gronholm Peugeot 206 10:06,7
2 Burns Subaru Impreza 10:07,9
3 Rovanpera Toyota Corolla 10:11,4
4 Solberg Ford Focus 10:13,2
5 Auriol Seat Cordoba 10:13,7
SS 3 Mokkipera 13.39 km 1st Car: 11:57
1 Gronholm Peugeot 206 6:32,2
2 Burns Subaru Impreza 6:33,8
3 Rovanpera Toyota Corolla 6:35,7
4 Makinen Mitsu Lancer 6:36,4
5 Solberg Ford Focus 6:36,7
SS 4 Muittari 13.51 km 1st Car: 13:55
1 Gronholm Peugeot 206 6:05,6
2 Burns Subaru Impreza 6:09,0
2 Delecour Peugeot 206 6:09,0
4 Rovanpera Toyota Corolla 6:09,8
5 McRae Ford Focus 6:10,2
SS 5 Konttimaki 13.08 km 1st Car: 14:18
1 Gronholm Peugeot 206 5:40,7
2 Sainz Ford Focus 5:41,6
3 Burns Subaru Impreza 5:42,4
4 Kankkunan Subaru Impreza 5:42,4
5 Rovanpera Toyota Corolla 5:43,2
SS 6 Palsankyla 13.90 km 1st Car: 14:51
1 Burns Subaru Impreza 7:28,6
2 McRae Ford Focus 7:28,9
3 Gronholm Peugeot 206 7:31,1
4 Solberg Ford Focus 7:31,9
5 Sainz Ford Focus 7:33,6
SS 7 Valkola 8.40 km 1st Car: 16:09
1 Burns Subaru Impreza 4:30,2
2 Solberg Ford Focus 4:30,6
3 Rovanpera Toyota Corolla 4:30,6
4 Gronholm Peugeot 206 4:30,8
5 McRae Ford Focus 4:31,0
SS 8 Lankamaa 23.44 km 1st Car: 16:52
1 Gronholm Peugeot 206 11:47,3
2 Burns Subaru Impreza 11:48,8
3 Kankkunen Subaru Impreza 11:49,2
4 Sainz Ford Focus 11:51,8
5 Rovanpera Toyota Corolla 11:52,0
SS 9 Laukaa 12.37 km
1 Burns Subaru Impreza 6:13,0
2 Gronholm Peugeot 206 6:14,1
3 Rovanpera Toyota Corolla 6:15,6
4 Martin Toyota Corolla 6:15,7
5 Kankkunen Subaru Impreza 6:16,5
SS 10 Killeri 1 2.23 km 1st Car: 20:17
1 Makinen Mitsu Lancer 1:07,9
1 Burns Subaru Impreza 1:07,9
3 Tuohino Toyota Corolla 1:08,3
4 Gardmeister Seat Cordoba 1:08,4
5 McRae Ford Focus 1:08,5

Thursday 17th August
Extract from Official FIA Press Release

With just eight points covering the top three drivers in the 2000 FIA World Rally Championship, Neste Rally Finland will be a crucial moment in the title chase for series leader Richard Burns and his closest rivals Marcus Gronholm and Colin McRae. Equally the quest for the Manufacturers' Championship is just as finely balanced with Subaru leading Ford by one point and Peugeot closing fast after Gronholm's win in New Zealand last month. Of these three drivers, Gronholm starts this event as the bigger favourite as only Carlos Sainz and Didier Auriol have broken the Scandinavian domination of this rally in its 50 year historyÉ

Subaru (58 points)
Having seen its early championship lead cut to just a single point over the past couple of rallies, Subaru will be hoping to repeat its 1-2 victory here last year when Juha Kankkunen confirmed his position as the most successful driver in the history of the FIA World Rally Championship. The team has identified the failures that forced both cars out of New Zealand as a small machining fault on the engine flywheel and insists that there should be no repeat this time. Richard Burns has led the FIA drivers' championship since Portugal but is clearly feeling the pressure and refused all media interviews during yesterday's shakedown test.

Ford (57 points)
Having seemingly found the reliability that it lacked earlier in the season, Ford has emerged as a very strong contender for at least one of this year's FIA World Rally Championship titles. Thanks to wins in Spain and Greece, Colin McRae has moved closer to the series leaders and his morale has been boosted by signing a new two-year contract with the team. Carlos Sainz, as the first of only two non-Scandinavian drivers ever to win this event must be considered a ' dark horse' for victory. McRae and Sainz will have three active differentials on their cars. Ford's line-up includes rapid Norwegian Petter Solberg and, in a 1999-spec Focus WRC, reigning British Rally Champion Tapio Laukkanen who gets his first big break in a World Rally Car.

Peugeot (41 points)
Peugeot has entered three cars for this rally but the registered scoring pair will be Marcus Gronholm and his cousin Sebastian Lindholm. Lindholm joins the team for the first time to add extra local experience while Gronholm is, of course, the revelation of this season's championship. Wins in Sweden and New Zealand have ensured a permanent place in the team for the Finn as he is chasing hard for the FIA drivers' title. Francois Delecour gets the third car this time and his is the only one fitted with the new steering wheel 'ring' remote control gearshift.

Mitsubishi (29 points)
After a nightmare event in New Zealand, Mitsubishi arrives in Finland in buoyant mood as the team has the latest version of the Lancer for the first time. A tubular subframe is just one of several innovations aimed at reducing the car's weight, most notably at the front, and the car is also fitted with a super-lightweight composite sump guard. The problems of handling in New Zealand were put down to a minute but critical error in differential tolerances. Mitsubishi is the team most heavily represented here in Finland with 50 of the 130 entries thanks to an enthusiastic motorsport programme led by the local importer.

SEAT (7 points)
SEAT debuted its first World Rally Car on this event two years ago and now unveils the Evolution 3 version of the Cordoba WRC for the first time, driven by team regulars Didier Auriol and Toni Gardemeister. With the exception of a new front air dam the car shows no visible signs of change. However, under the skin, the car features revised engine torque characteristics and lower weight that is better distributed. Speaking before the start Auriol explained: "This is an important step for us. The engine now helps the car to respond better and the improvements in weight speak for themselves as they give us more usable power." Auriol is the second of two non-Scandinavian drivers to win here and, as the other (Sainz) is Spanish, the combination of the Frenchman in a Spanish team must be considered a good omen. Auriol celebrates his 43rd birthday tomorrow.

Hyundai (4 points)
The ever-improving Hyundai team is entering three Accent WRC cars for the first time on this event although it is the regular pairing of Kenneth Eriksson and Alister McRae who are nominated for manufacturers championship points. The third car is entered for Australian driver Michael Guest as part of a driver development programme and is his first appearance in the new for 2000 Accent WRC. Eriksson was among many who were impressed by the car's performance in New Zealand but warned against expecting too much this time. "Our problem is the lack of testing time," he said. "We need to do more between events so that we aren't carrying out our testing in public when the event starts."

Other teams
The leading FIA Teams Cup entrant, Spike Subaru Team (driven by Toshihiro Arai), is absent from this event. It is therefore a great opportunity for Toyota Team Saudi Arabia (Abdullah Bakhashab), F.Dor Rally Team (Frederic Dor) and Arab World Rally Team (Hamed Al Wahaibi) to close the gap or overtake the Japanese entry. There are many private or semi-private entries here, led by Harri Rovanpera who again drives a Grifone Toyota after winning the recent Mantta Rally. Markko Martin, Pasi Hagstrom and Janne Touhino also have top quality Toyotas. Joukko Puhakka tops a typically strong Group N entry ahead of FIA Production Cup leaders Manfred Stohl and Gustavo Trelles. The Skoda team is again absent from this event but will return to FIA World Championship action in Cyprus next month.
Friday 18 August 1st LEG (456.10 km) (GMT+3)
10:00 Start from Jyvaskyla
10.31 SS 1 Kuohu 7.67 km
10:57 SS 2 Parkkola 20.11 km
11:57 SS 3 Mokkipera 13.39 km
13:55 SS 4 Muittari 13.51 km
14:18 SS 5 Konttimaki 13.08 km
14:51 SS 6 Palsankyla 13.90 km
16:09 SS 7 Valkola 8.40 km
16:52 SS 8 Lankamaa 23.44 km
17:45 SS 9 Laukaa 12.37 km
20:17 SS 10 Killeri 1 2.23 km
20:42 End of leg 1 in Jyvaskyla

Saturday 19 August 2nd LEG (694.90 km)
06:00 Start from Jyvaskyla
08:07 SS 11 Juupajoki 30.34 km
09:25 SS 12 Vastila 17.43 km
10:00 SS 13 Paijalala 12.81 km
11:56 SS 14 Ehikki 1 19.08 km
12:59 SS 15 Leustu 1 23.58 km
15:06 SS 16 Ouninpohja 1 34.21 km
16:09 SS 17 Vaheri 1 25.43 km
20:04 SS 18 Killeri 1 2.23 km
20:29 End of leg 2 in Jyvaskyla

Sunday 20 August 3rd LEG (529.14 km)
06:00 Start from Jyvaskyla
08:39 SS 19 Ehikki 2 19.08 km
09:12 SS 20 Moksi 14.67 km
09:51 SS 21 Leustu 2 23.58 km
11:58 SS 22 Ouninpohja 2 34.21 km
13:01 SS 23 Vaheri 2 25.43 km
16:11 Finish of the rally in Jyvaskyla
ENTRY LIST (top 30)
1 Richard Burns/Robert Reid (GB) Subaru Impreza WRC2000 (A8)
2 Marcus Grönholm/Timo Rautiainen (FIN) Peugeot A8 206 WRC (A8)
3 Colin McRae/Nicky Grist (GB) Ford Focus WRC (A8)
4 Carlos Sainz/Luis Moya (E) Ford Focus WRC (A8)
5 Tommi Mäkinen/Risto Mannisenmäki (FIN)Mitsubishi Lancer (A8)
6 Juha Kankkunen/Juha Repo (FIN) Subaru Impreza WRC2000 (A8)
7 Didier Auriol/Denis Giraudet (F) Seat Córdoba WRC E3 (A8)
8 Freddy Loix/Sven Smeets (B) Mitsubishi Carisma GT (A8)
9 Toni Gardemeister/Paavo Lukander (FIN)SEAT Córdoba WRC E3 (A8)
10 Kenneth Eriksson/Staffan Parmander (S)Hyundai Accent (A8)
11 Sebastian Lindholm/Jukka Aho (FIN) Peugeot 206 WRC (A8)
12 Alister McRae/David Senior (GB) Hyundai Accent (A8)
13 Petter Solberg/Philip Mills (N/GB) Ford Focus WRC (A8)
14 Harri Rovanperä/Risto Pietiläinen (FIN) Toyota Coralla WRC (A8)
15 Francois Delecour/Daniel Grataloup (FIN) Peugeot Esso 206 WRC (A8)
16 Tapio Laukkanen/Kaj Lindström (FIN) Ford Focus WRC (A8)
17 Markko Märtin/Michael Park (EE/GB) Toyota Corolla WRC (A8)
18 Pasi Hagström/Tero Gardemeister (FIN)Toyota Corolla WRC (A8)
19 Janne Tuohino/Miikka Anttila (FIN) Toyota Corolla WRC (A8)
20 Abdullah Bakhashab/Bobby Willis (SA/GB) Toyota Corolla WRC A8)
21 Jouko Puhakka/Tomi Tuominen (FIN) Mitsubishi Carisma GT (N4)
22 Manfred Stohl/Peter Müller (A) Mitsubishi Lancer (N4)
23 Juuso Pykälistö/Esko Mertsalmi (FIN) Mitsubishi Carisma GT (N4)
24 Jani Paasonen/Jakke Honkanen (FIN) Mitsubishi Carisma GT (N4)
25 Gustavo Trelles/Jorge Del Buono (ROU/RA)Mitsubishi Lancer (N4)
26 Raphael Sperrer/Per Carlsson (A) SEAT Córdoba WRC (A8)
27 Henning Solberg/Runar Pedersen (N) Toyota Corolla WRC (A8)
28 Marko Ipatti/Jorma Körkkö (FIN) Subaru Impreza 555 (N4)
29 Jarmo Kytölehto/Arto Kapanen (FIN) Hyundai Coupé Evo 2 (A8)
30 Michael Guest/David Green (AUS) Hyundai Accent (A8)
Summer 2000 has seen most unusually unstable weather conditions so far in Finland, with rain and sun seemingly every day. This looks like continuing, with daytime temperatures between 16 and 19 degrees and warm evenings.
50s everywhere! This is the 50th time World Rally Cars have been admitted to world championship rallies. This alternative formula was first seen at Monte Carlo in 1997, conceived by the FIA as a way to encourage new manufacturers into the series. At that time three manufacturers were active at the top level, now there are seven, and next year there promises to be an eighth. · Also the rally! Take time to enjoy the rally's half-century anniversary proceedings. Throughout the event there will be a display of old time rally cars which competed on 1000 Lakes Rallies in earlier days. The collection has been arranged by former codriver Seppo Harjanne who, though now retired, partnered two world champions (Timo Salonen and Tommi Makinen) and entered more world rallies than any other codriver. · Not forgetting the drivers! This is the 50th world championship rally for Manfred Stohl, the 28 year old Austrian currently leading the FIA Production Cup series. His first was the 1991 Ivory Coast Rally when he acted as chase car driver for his father Rudi. It was only his second ever rally.
The FIA has announced the rules for the Super 1600 category due to take effect in 2001. This will be a six event series for drivers within the World Championship with three events on asphalt and three on gravel, using small Group A Kit Cars with cost saving limitations on modifications. Registered drivers must start all the events. Minimum of 10 drivers must enter before 1 February 2001 for the series to take place.

The World Rally Championship Mailing List is brought to you by:
Digital Rally - 'get virtually sideways'
Please also support the World Rally Discussion List: