Peugeot Cleansweep Corsican World Rally
By: Lance Hastie www.car.co.nz
The latest round of WRC competition in Corsica has seen a dominant Peugeot team make a clean sweep of the French podium. In an exciting event, the Peugeot team have absolutely shut the door on any opposition by commandingly wraping up the third round of World Rallying in Corsica.
Only one driver ever had a look in at the podium - being Subaru's Tommi Makinen. However, his chance evaporated with an accident on the 9th of the 16 stages of this year's event.
A demanding event at the best of times, it saw many drivers who shine in the gravel based events, really hold their own on the super quick tarmac roads of the French Isle.
Current World Champion Richard Burns, made a rapid rise to glory. His ability to come to grips with the new car as well as battle the tarmac specialists, gave him a sniff of the top of the podium.
Never really in doubt of not scoring points, Burns led the times out of a few stages on his way to a credible 3rd place - less than a minute behind leader and team-mate Gilles Panizzi.
Second place went to past World Champion Marcus Gronholm. Gronholm also showed no sign of having tarmac specialists get the better of him as he breathed down the neck of leader Panizzi.
Behind the closed door that the Peugeot team created, was the privateer Citroen driver - Philippe Bugalaski. With Citroen not contesting this round, they will be well pleased with such a fantastic result in a car that hasn't had the exposure that many of the other manufacturers have clocked over the years.
Petter Solberg has again proven to Prodrive his value as a top performer. Faith from the Subaru camp after many repeated crashes has paid off in the form of points for the team.
Ford however; have had a difficult time, reinforced by the dominance of Peugeot. Colin McRae battled minor issues and was looking set for a 4th place until his dramatic departure on the 15th stage. While the stage was cancelled, the Scot was airlifted out for precautionary reasons. Suffering brusing to his ribs and left leg, his most serious injury was a broken and gashed little finger on his left hand. "We have to accept these kind of accidents on asphalt. When stages are used twice the risk goes up because other cars have already dragged mud from the side of the road on to the stage. We were running better today than we expected. The car / tyre package was working well and I think we've made big progress for the Catalunya Rally," said McRae.
Team-mate Carlos Sainz had a relatively trouble free run, picking up a 6th place and more points for the team. Sainz's consistency had him picked for a 5th placing, a credible placing for such an event at the best of times.
First Mitsubishi home was that of Francois Delecour. Delecour has scored his first pluck of points for the season in the Evolution. The team also suffered puncture problems - similar that to most drivers, however, they were able to make the most of the mousse technology allowing both Delecour and Alistair McRae to finish 7th and 10th respectively.
The two Hyundai Accent's of Freddy Loix and Armin Schwartz also finished inside the top 13 - in what was a debut of the new WRC3
With a two-week break until the next round of competition, the teams next assemble for the Rallye Catalunya - a favourite for hometown hero Carlos Sainz.