WRC » 21 April 2002
Gronholm takes Cyprus win after McRae blows it.
Richard Burns continued: ''I didn't think I'd get past Tommi in the last stage, really. He should have had a better tyre choice for the drier conditions. But we pushed again and I think he made a small mistake, so it worked out well. I've still been learning the 206 on gravel on this event, but we've come away with six more points and the car has been proven on the rougher surfaces. It's been a great rally for the whole team.''
Harri Rovanperä added: ''Of course I think I could have been on Richard's pace and closer to him in the results, but we had some problems in the rain yesterday. If you look at the times I think it would have been possible but then, it's always easy to say that after the rally. I think the 206 has shown that it can be quick and strong on the rougher roads now, and with Argentina next I'm feeling quite confident about the rallies in the next few months.''
At Subaru meanwhile the Impreza WRC2002s of Tommi Mäkinen and Petter Solberg have also been reliable. Mäkinen expected a battle with Richard Burns today [Sunday] and he got it - and the pair were ultimately fighting over second place once Colin McRae had crashed for the second time. Mäkinen looked to have done enough on the penultimate stage but on the final, drier test he had to reverse and restart after a half-spin. The time loss was enough to allow Burns into second overall and demote Mäkinen to the final podium place.
Petter Solberg, meanwhile, finished fifth as he concluded a strong recovery after his first-day problems. The young Norwegian suffered a quick roll on SS17 but then he benefited from McRae's problems. He also passed both Kenneth Eriksson and Markko Martin as he moved into the points placings. Solberg has now scored points on each of the last three events.
Tommi Mäkinen said: ''We didn't have much luck with tyre choice today. I'm sure if we'd gone for tyres for wetter conditions this afternoon we could have made things much more difficult for Richard. But we went for drier rubber and then it started to rain very heavily! In the last stage I just got one wheel too much on the inside of a slow corner and the back end of the car came around - we had to reverse and then start again, and I'm sure that cost us enough time for Richard to get past. It's a little disappointing when we could have had second overall but we've learnt a lot about the car and our tyre choices here.''
Team-mate Petter Solberg added: ''I'm delighted with my fightback here. We had an awful first day but we got back into the car yesterday and charged, and it's paid off. Of course I feel that we could have done even better if we'd had no problems on Friday so that means I'm not totally happy, but yesterday and today have been very good. It was seriously slippery this morning and I made that small mistake which meant we rolled, but otherwise it was an excellent day.''
At Ford Colin McRae's Ford Focus WRC was generally reliable - its only real problem was power steering failure, but that came as a result of the Scot's accident in SS16. He then suffered a loss of windscreen wipers in his second accident in SS19, hampering him in the prevailing rain.
Markko Martin, meanwhile, lost his power steering and damaged the steering rack in his own accident (at the same SS16 corner that claimed McRae). It was, in fact, a bad morning for Ford's steering - Carlos Sainz's system failed in this morning's first stage.
McRae had to fight off Marcus Grönholm this morning but confusion over split times shown to the Scot in the day's opening stage meant that he backed off and lost nearly 13s to his rival. He tried to respond in SS16, but around a kilometre from the finish he cut a corner and clipped a concrete block hidden in some bushes. The car rolled and even though it ended up back on its wheels, the car's power steering was damaged and by the time McRae had returned to Limassol service, he was nearly 50s behind Grönholm. The 1995 world champion regrouped for the afternoon tests but in SS18, he rolled again, dropping out of the top six. A fightback over the final couple of tests was enough for him to pass Armin Schwarz and finished sixth, gaining a potentially crucial drivers' point.
Markko Martin's hopes of a points finish effectively ended on today's second stage, when the Estonian was caught out at the same left-hand corner as McRae and also rolled, damaging his own power steering. He recovered in the afternoon but eventually finished eighth.
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