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Gronholm takes Cyprus win after McRae blows it.


Peugeot driver Marcus Grönholm has scored his second victory in this year's World Rally Championship on the fifth round, the Cyprus Rally, which finished in Limassol this afternoon.

After an exciting final day's action, the Finn and navigator Timo Rautiainen led home team-mates Richard Burns and Robert Reid to secure Peugeot's fourth straight one-two finish.

Overnight leaders Colin McRae and Nicky Grist suffered a disastrous final day, though - they rolled three times in two separate accidents and had to fight back in the last stage to secure even a single point.

Like yesterday, the spring Cyprus weather played games with the world's top rally stars, and the closing loop of stages was hit by occasional heavy rain showers. Burns's runners-up spot was only secured in the last test, after he overhauled four-times world champion Tommi Mäkinen. It was a result that moved him further clear of the Finn in the world championship standings but he still lies in third, behind his asphalt-specialist team-mate Gilles Panizzi.

The Peugeot 206 WRCs of Richard Burns, Harri Rovanperä and Gilles Panizzi have been reliable today [Sunday]. Marcus Grönholm complained of steering glitches after the opening loop of tests, but his car ran without problems otherwise.

Grönholm pushed hard on today's opening pair of stages and when Colin McRae rolled, it handed the 2000 world champion a decisive advantage that he held until the finish to secure his second win of the year and extend his world drivers' championship points advantage.

Richard Burns closed down Tommi Mäkinen this morning and inched ahead after SS18, but then the Finn reclaimed the second position (after Colin McRae's problems) prior to the final test. Burns charged again, though, and he passed Mäkinen once more to secure another one-two finish for Peugeot.

Harri Rovanperä relied heavily on Michelin's ATS mousse system as he suffered four punctures on this morning's opening three stages. The former Swedish Rally winner controlled his pace in the tricky conditions this afternoon to finish fourth. Peugeot's fourth driver Gilles Panizzi finished 10th as he continued to gain more experience of the 206 WRC on loose surfaces.

Marcus Grönholm said: ''I wasn't sure if we could pass Colin this morning, although when we took so much time in the opening stage I thought it might be possible. I attacked again but then he made a mistake, so we had a good lead after that and it was just about not making any mistakes. I'm really happy with the result, because it shows the 206 can win rallies on rough surfaces.''



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Cyprus Rally winners [2002] - Marcus Gronholm and Timo Rautiainen [Peugeot 206 WRC]
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Yazeed Al Rajhi, Michal Orr (Ford Fiesta RRC, #31 Yazeed Racing)
Yazeed Al Rajhi, Michal Orr (Ford Fiesta RRC, #31 Yazeed Racing)
Yazeed Al Rajhi, Michal Orr (Ford Fiesta RRC, #31 Yazeed Racing)
Yazeed Al Rajhi, Michal Orr (Ford Fiesta RRC, #31 Yazeed Racing)
Yazeed Al Rajhi, Michal Orr (Ford Fiesta RRC, #31 Yazeed Racing)
Yazeed Al Rajhi, Michal Orr (Ford Fiesta RRC, #31 Yazeed Racing)
Yazeed Al Rajhi, Michal Orr (Ford Fiesta RRC, #31 Yazeed Racing)
Yazeed Al Rajhi, Michal Orr (Ford Fiesta RRC, #31 Yazeed Racing)
Bjorn Waldegard [Pic credit: Race Retro / www.historicmotorsportshow.com]
Yazeed Al Rajhi, Michal Orr (Ford Fiesta RRC, #31 Yazeed Racing)
Yazeed Al Rajhi, Michal Orr (Ford Fiesta RRC, #31 Yazeed Racing)
Yazeed Al Rajhi, Michal Orr (Ford Fiesta RRC, #31 Yazeed Racing)
Yazeed Al Rajhi, Michal Orr (Ford Fiesta RRC, #31 Yazeed Racing)
Jacques Villeneuve testing his Albatec Racing Peugeot [Pic credit: Gary Hawkins/Ebrey Photographic]
Jacques Villeneuve in his Albatec Racing Peugeot [Pic credit: Gary Hawkins/Ebrey Photographic]

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