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Changing of the Guard

27 February 2004

Attention Sports Editors

Changing of the Guard

Propecia Rally New Zealand could have a new champion the year as the World Rally Championship undergoes a change of guard as the young guns stamp there mark.

Gone is 4 times World Rally Champion Tommi Makinen, who has chosen to retire. Joining him is 1995 Champion Scotland’s Colin McRae who after being released by Citroen was unable to secure a WRC drive for 2004.

Their place at the top of the WRC standings have been taken by the new generation of drivers including Norway’s Petter Solberg (Subaru), Frenchman Sebastian Loeb (Citroen), Estonian Marko Martin (Ford) and Finish driver Miko Hirvanen (Subaru).

The only remaining members of the old guard include 2000 and 2002 Champion Marcus Gronholm from Finland driving a Peugeot and 1990 and 1992 Champion Spaniard Carlos Sainz driving for Citroen.

Solberg and Loeb have already shown their class with Solberg claiming the 2003 Championship by a single point from Loeb.

With the 2004 Championship only 2 rallies old again the young guns have taken the lead with Loeb victorious at Monte Carlo and Sweden.

The Propecia-sponsored event starts with two super special stages at Manukau City on the evening of Thursday 15 April. The first full day on Friday is in the Kaipara region before returning for two further super special stages at Manukau City. Saturday’s racing returns to Kaipara, with the last day in the Waikato region near Raglan. The final stage will be the internationally acclaimed Whaanga Coast, with the ceremonial finish in downtown Auckland city on Sunday afternoon.


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