10 March 2002
Panizzi and Peugeot in a class of their own.
Richard Burns continued: ''It would have been nice to have been challenging Marcus but with the brake problem I wasn't really able to be consistently quick. It's my first podium finish for Peugeot, though, so I'm relatively pleased.''
At Subaru the sole remaining Impreza WRC2002 of Petter Solberg has been reliable on final day of the rally. Tommi Makinen crashed out of the Tour de Corse yesterday [Saturday] when he slid off and damaged his car's suspension beyond repair in SS10.
Solberg's hopes of charging clear of Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz appeared to have taken a knock this [Sunday] morning - the young Norwegian chose too soft a tyre for the opening pair of stages and he entered the repeat run in seventh. But third fastest time in the penultimate stage and then fifth fastest in the last test were enough to haul him clear of Sainz and with McRae crashing out in SS15, Solberg thus finished fifth to claim four manufacturers' points for Subaru.
Petter Solberg said: ''I lost some time this morning because I played safe and went for a wet set-up for the opening two stages. The car was fine but I also think I went a little too soft on tyre choice and I had to think about it over both stages. If you look back at some of the problems we've had - the punctures yesterday, my spin on Friday - then we clearly lost about a couple of minutes, which could have had us right up fighting for podium places. I'm really encouraged by how the rally's gone for us - we've made big improvements over last year and the new Impreza has been very reliable for its first event.''
At Ford the Focus RS WRC02s of Colin McRae, Carlos Sainz and Markko Martin have been run without difficulties today.
Colin McRae expected to struggle against the Xsara WRC of Philippe Bugalski in this morning's predominantly dry conditions, but the Scot moved ahead over the first pair of stages to start the final two tests in fourth overall. But five kilometres into SS15, he was caught out by mud on the entry to a third-gear right-hand bend and slid sideways into a tree. A dazed McRae remained in the car for some time after the accident, before he was airlifted to hospital suffering from concussion and a suspected broken finger on his left hand. Navigator Nicky Grist escaped with just a sore head.
Carlos Sainz, meanwhile, lost out to Petter Solberg in this afternoon's final two stages - the Spaniard tried everything to keep the young Norwegian at bay but ultimately he had to settle for sixth and three manufacturers' points.
The third Focus driver, Markko Martin, has suffered badly from 'flu today but the Estonian still managed to overhaul Armin Schwarz and finish eighth, scoring a manufacturers' point for Ford. Young Belgian François Duval started today's stages in 10th overall but in SS14, a tyre exploded and he slid off the road.
Carlos Sainz said: ''It was a tough fight this afternoon. We have to find out why our package is not so good in the dry as it is in the wet - I think the driver can make a bigger difference in the wet but there must be something else. I had quite a big moment at the same corner as Colin's accident - it was slippery and I slid very wide but I got away with it.''
Nicky Grist added: ''It was a third-gear left-hand bend followed immediately by a right, and I think some mud had been pulled out into the road. When we tried to go for the right-hander there was clearly still some mud on our tyres and the car just understeered to the outside of the bend. There was a tree there and it hit the left-hand side of the car pretty hard.''
François Delecour's Mitsubishi Lancer Evo WRC has been reliable today, but Alister McRae has continued to struggle with overheating brakes in his car. He also lost time with an ATS mousse insert break-up in the final stage. Both drivers believe the Lancer needs more work to fine-tune handling on the bumpier roads.
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