WRC » 11 June 2000
McRae wins as Sainz takes orders.
Schwarz secured two vital championship points for himself and Skoda by taking a hard-earned fifth place on the first anniversary of the Octavia's maiden points score. The German had had to battle with a fever, as well as the excessive heat, for the opening two days, and was content just to make it to the finish on the third, but almost didn't make it.
''I went through a water-splash and the engine dropped onto three cylinders,'' he revealed, ''My heart was in my mouth until it cleared!''
With over half of the works contingent falling by the wayside over the 19 stages, the next three place were all filled by privateers. While Arai led the way for the Teams' Cup runners, Abdullah Bakhashab took sixth in his Toyota Corolla, ahead of Subaru runners Jean-Pierre Richelmi and Frederic Dor. The three had enjoyed a close battle almost to the end, with places changing on each stage, and only niggling delays separated them at the end.
Also involved for much of the day, Greek expert John Papadimitriou dropped away with a couple of slow stages, and found himself dropped one place by a recovering Francois Delecour. Serkan Yazici also impressed on occasion, but suffered when a jack failure cost him penalties and dropped him to an eventual 15th.
Delecour also suffered a jack problem, which prevented him from making a routine switch of tyres from front to rear. With no option but to soldier on, the Peugeot driver struggled with a lack of traction, but still managed to secure a top ten finish after a troubled second leg.
''There seemed to be no grip at all,'' Delecour reported, ''so I was surprised when my stage time told me that I was third fastest!''
He should have been joined at the sharper end of the order by Ford's Petter Solberg, the Norwegian having taken fastest time in five of the day's seven stages. Everything was looking good for the youngster as he headed off to the finish at Itea, before a differential failure left him stranded by the roadside.
As a result of Solberg's demise, Group N winner Gabriel Pozzo finished eleventh overall after a largely trouble-free day. The Argentine was never headed having assumed the class lead on day two, but a three way battle for second was only settled in Gustavo Trelles favour on the final stage.
''Everything has gone really well,'' said Pozzo, ''The rally is very tough, just as I expected, but the car has been fantastic, and we have had no problems at all. I am really pleased to take this win, and it makes up for the disappointment of finishing second last month in front of my home crowd.''
Neither Mitsubishi driver was able to take the lead in the class championship, however, as Manfred Stohl's third place was enough to preserve his advantage. Pozzo's win was only good enough to move him into third overall - twelve points behind second placed Trelles and 15 behind Stohl.
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