Carlos Sainz suffered more power steering problems today as he continued to fight back after his first-day dramas. The Spaniard finished in 11th. Francois Duval went out yesterday [Saturday] in SS9 with engine difficulties.
Colin McRae reflected: ''I'm gutted. We basically had two really good days and then one really awful one. This morning I got given the wrong split time in the opening stage so I backed off a bit too much, allowing Marcus to really close in. Then we were trying harder in the next stage and I cut a corner a bit too much. There was a concrete block hidden in bushes and it put the car right over and back onto its wheels. But the power steering was broken so we lost more time on the next stage. We tried to fight back this afternoon but the roads were very slippery and I got caught out on some mud and rolled again.''
The remaining Hyundai Accent WRC3 of Armin Schwarz ran without major problems today [Sunday], although the German did suffer from three punctures in this morning's opening loop of stages. The former European Champion also continued to complain of softening shock absorbers in the rougher stretches of the Cyprus stages. Tomasz Kuchar's Accent WRC2 was basically reliable, though, since the team had cured the overheating problems that had hampered the young Pole for the opening two days.
Armin Schwarz had to watch Petter Solberg
pull away from him this morning, but he moved back past his Norwegian rival when he rolled in SS17. Solberg responded again in the final group of stages and Schwarz entered the penultimate test effectively resigned to seventh. That aim quickly became sixth when he heard that McRae had rolled again, but Schwarz was unable to fight off the resurgent Ford driver in the very last stage and he missed out on the final drivers' point by just under two seconds.
Tomasz Kuchar, meanwhile, finished in 14th after an outing designed to boost his experience of the Accent. Freddy Loix retired yesterday [Saturday] in SS12 with gearbox problems.
Armin Schwarz said: ''I'm annoyed to miss out on the drivers' point by such a small margin because if I'd known a bit earlier, I'm sure we could have been at least five seconds quicker in SS19. As it was, I didn't push too hard in the rough stuff.''
At Skoda Kenneth Eriksson lost some time with a broken brake pipe this [Sunday] morning, but his Octavia was generally reliable otherwise. Toni Gardemeister, meanwhile, felt that his Octavia was too stiffly sprung for this morning's stages.
Eriksson's brake problems cost the Swede crucial seconds this morning, and he was unable to halt a slide down the top ten as a result. The former Asia-Pacific champion eventually claimed ninth in his Octavia. Team-mate Toni Gardemeister knew that he'd struggle to break into the top ten after his catalogue of problems yesterday and so it proved - the young Finn enjoyed a relatively troublefree day (although he complained of too stiff a suspension set-up this morning) but he couldn't better 15th overall.
Toni Gardemeister said: ''This morning was really difficult for me. The car was bouncing around everywhere and it felt like I had absolutely no traction coming out of the corners. It's been a hard event for everyone, including the whole Skoda team, but I think we've come through it pretty well.''
The third Skoda driver - Roman Kresta retired yesterday [Saturday] in SS12 after an accident.
The sole remaining Mitsubishi Lancer Evo WRC of François Delecour has run well today. Delecour enjoyed solid reliability, but the Frenchman decided not to take too many risks when conditions worsened this afternoon. He experimented with the Lancer's set-up throughout the final day and eventually finished in 13th overall.