Rally Cyprus finished with great victory of Ford/Martini Team!!!
Carlos Sainz produced a dominant performance to win the first ever
FIA World Rally Championship Cyprus Rally. The Spaniard led from start
to finish, heading his team mate Colin McRae over the line to bounce
right back into the battle for the championship. Four rounds remain
and the top four title-chasing crews are covered by just seven points.
The FIA World Rally Championship now moves to Corsica (which has moved
from its usual May date) and San Remo for a double dose of intense
asphalt action before the title battle reaches its climax in Australia
and Britain. For the moment, however, Sainz will be concerned only
with celebrating his first win since the 1998 Rally of New Zealand
and Ford's second 1-2 finish of the year.
I pushed hard on the first stage today but once I saw that I could
hold off Colin then I eased back a little, said rally winner Carlos
Sainz. The Spaniard has led the Cyprus Rally from the first stage on
Friday and now joins Juha Kankkunen at the top of the win list with 23
WRC victories. When he reached the lunchtime regroup in Limassol today
the Ford Martini team management issued instructions for its two drivers,
holding a comfortable 1-2 position, to not fight between them and risk
the result. Team boss Malcolm Wilson said of Sainz, Carlos has really
changed his character for this event. He's totally focussed, has been
training hard and is really fit. Of the Cyprus Rally he added,
Considering this is the first time the organisers have run a full
WRC event they must be complimented. If they continue to be receptive
to advice and suggestions then the future looks good for the event.
Sainz added that he was really enjoying both the event and the island.
It's a nice place to bring family and friends to stay and enjoy the
rally. The stages certainly have their own character.
Fran ois Delecour decided that tactics were not an issue today. All
I am doing is making sure I stay ahead of Richard, he said. The
Frenchman was almost a minute behind Colin McRae and, after Burns hit
trouble on SS18, over a minute clear of the Englishman so this was not
too difficult a quest. Despite team leader Marcus Gronholm's retirement
on Friday, Gronholm continues to lead the championship. The next two
events, on asphalt in Corsica and San Remo, are not his strongest choices
and so he will have to fend off McRae and Burns before he gets onto
gravel again for the final two rounds of the season.
There was panic in the Subaru camp at the end of today's opening stage
when Richard Burns' car refused to restart at the time control. A
misfire on the stage had meant a slow time but it seemed that, for
the fourth event in succession, Burns would be forced out in cruel
circumstances. However, the crew managed to get the car going again
and the problem seemed to have been caused by a loose electrical
connection. The next two stages would be tackled with fingers crossed!
Frustratingly for Burns he was quickest on each of them and was left to
consider what might have been. Everything that could have gone wrong
this morning did, he said. I had to change a tyre before the stage
after I found a nail in it. Then the electrical problem occurred and it
would take anything up to five seconds between me pressing the throttle
and anything happening. My 'cool suit' also failed and so I'm quite
looking forward to reaching the pool this afternoon! The propshaft
failure on yesterday's final stage was attributed to a rock becoming
jammed in the transmission tunnel and eventually grinding away the
shaft until it broke. Team mate Juha Kankkunen said of the first WRC
Cyprus Rally, The concept of the event fits in with what people need
from such a rally - constant variety. This rally has heat and twisty
stages that can't be found anywhere else.
Team boss Andrew Cowan reflected on the improved form for the Ralliart
team, saying, We've done nothing special except prepare hard for this
event and had the good fortune to break everything in testing rather
than on the rally itself! It's been a long time since I've seen Tommi
enjoying himself so much in a rally car. Cyprus also marked Freddy
Loix's best performance since he joined the team at the start of last
season. He has struggled to find form in the past but has finally shown
the kind of speed that everyone knew him to be capable of. Makinen had
a gearbox mounting problem after SS19 that forced him to be cautious when
changing gear while Loix was concerned that there were some rogues bits
of metal in his transmission.
Markko Martin had to give best to Tommi Makinen in the race for fifth
place today, but the young Estonian was not too despondent. It's nice
to finish sixth here, he said. The stages are very different to
anywhere else in the championship. Gustavo Trelles' Group N win has
opened up the production car category of the FIA World Rally Championship.
Fourth place keeps Manfred Stohl at the head of the pack but reigning
four-time champion Trelles is now snapping at his heels. Gabriel Pozzo
rolled this morning but was able to continue without losing second place
behind Trelles. Toshihiro Arai's FIA Teams Cup success means that Spike
Subaru now takes over the series lead from Toyota Team Saudi Arabia's
Information from http://www.worldrallychampionship.com
Special stages maps in rally official page