The final stage of the San Remo rally was stopped by FIA safety delegate Jacek Bartos after huge numbers of spectators decended on the final leg of the event.
The last two stages used the same piece of road twice (once in each direction), with the first stage already halted after Markko Martin crashed his Toyota injuring three spectators - apparently not seriously.
Therefore only five competitive times were set in the final stage - none of which could upset the status quo. This handed Panizzi the rally win and left Gronholm extending his championship lead. Peugeot now also head the Manufacturers championship after their one - two finish.
Panizzi took the lead from the second stage of the rally and, with the cancellation of competitive running on crowd safety grounds occurring in both stages of today's final leg, his already significant lead was never attacked. He therefore won his second rally in succession from teammate Delecour.
The first stage of the morning (SS16) had to be stopped after Markko Martin's Toyota went straight on at a corner, injuring two spectators – one suffered a broken hand, the other pelvic contusion and Markko himself suffered minor glass injuries.
The final stage of the morning was to be run over the same section of track – in the opposite direction. However, after just five cars had posted competitive times the stage was stopped over concerns for the huge crowds safety.
Winner Panizzi said, “These two victories have been very good for Herve (his co-driver and brother) and I. All of the drivers - Francois, Richard Burns (retired on leg two following an accident) and Tommi Makinen - have been pushing very hard. But I started well, made some time in the mixed conditions on the first day and then controlled the rally. It's another good result for Peugeot and now we are leading the manufacturers championship, and I'm pleased to have played my part in that.”
With his performance for the Peugeot team this year Panizzi hopes he has proven his worth and that he is deserving of a full time drive for the team in the future.
Francois Delecour had to settle for second after being unable to recover time lost on the very first stage of the Rally when his 206's engine suffered a loss of power. “I lost a few seconds at the beginning and after, it was difficult to catch Gilles because we are at the same level. And I did not want to take too many risks. It is a good result for Peugeot,” said the Frenchman.