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Gronholm wins the rally, Burns the drivers' crown.


Subaru driver Richard Burns is the new FIA World Rally Champion, after the Englishman finished third overall on the Network Q Rally of Great Britain this afternoon.

Burns and navigator Robert Reid were happy to let the outgoing champion Marcus Grönholm and his co-driver Timo Rautiainen claim the rally victory, ahead of fellow Peugeot driver Harri Rovanperä. Peugeot's one-two success capped the French marque's victory in the FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers.

Heavy rain made today's final four stages in the south Wales forests treacherously slippery and with some of them being used for the second time, many drivers hit standing water in some of the deeper ruts. Overnight leader Grönholm and Burns merely consolidated their pace, for while Rovanperä inched past the Subaru driver into second overall, Burns knew that fourth or better would be enough to secure his first world crown.

Marcus Grönholm's Peugeot 206 WRC has been reliable today. Harri Rovanperä's car hit alternator trouble on the day's first stage, however. It cut out briefly but re-started immediately. Didier Auriol complained of harsh suspension during the opening pair of stages.

The withdrawal of Ford yesterday evening handed the manufacturers' crown to Peugeot, so their drivers were able to relax today. Marcus Grönholm maintained his steady but fast pace to secure his first victory on the Rally GB and claim his third win of the season. Harri Rovanperä needed only one stage to move past Richard Burns into second and despite a small off on the following test, the Finn held on to the runners-up spot to secure a one-two triumph for the French manufacturer.

Didier Auriol felt his 206 WRC was fitted with suspension that was too stiff during this morning's opening pair of stages. He eventually finished seventh on his final outing for Peugeot.

Gronholm said: ''I'm very pleased. It's been a fairly easy win for us, because Colin (McRae) and Tommi (Mäkinen) retired pretty early on and Richard was obviously thinking about the championship. Today he's been going through the same emotions that I went through last year. It's fantastic that we've turned the season around for Peugeot and won the manufacturers' title again, but of course I'm a bit sad to give up my own championship crown. I'll be aiming to win it back next year - testing starts after just one week, and I'm keen to get started!''

Harri Rovanperä noted: ''Today was a good day. We knew this morning that there was no more pressure in the manufacturers' championship so we were able to push, and I got past Richard quite quickly. Conditions were difficult, of course, but the Rally GB can be like that. I'm really pleased that we got a one-two for the team, and that Peugeot won the manufacturers' title.''

Didier Auriol cotinued: ''I'd have liked to have finished in the points because I think we were quick enough to do that, but our problems yesterday cost us too much time. The car was quite hard to drive this morning because the suspension was quite harsh and we bounced out of the ruts a few times.''



Related Pictures

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Richard Burns and Robert Reid - World Rally Champions 2001 - with the Subaru team
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