Carlos Sainz held his nerve through the final leg of the Rally of Turkey, the third round of the FIA World Rally Championship, to clinch his first victory of the year - and his first win for the Citroen team.

The Spaniard's success on this Kemer-based rally makes him the joint most successful driver of all time, equalling Colin McRae's record of 25 world championship wins.

Sainz's Xsara WRC ran without fault for the final day's five stages and Sainz's triumph promotes him to third in the race for the driver's title.

Related Articles

Richard Burns took second place for Peugeot. The 206 WRC driver started the day 25.7 seconds ahead of Francois Duval, but fastest time on SS15 was enough for him to ease his way clear of the Ford man.

Burns eventually brought his car home 58 seconds ahead of Duval to claim eight points and the championship lead. Duval's third place was his best ever finish on a round of the championship.

Citroen maintains its lead in the manufacturer's championship, now nine points clear of Peugeot, with Ford in third place six points further back. The second round of the Junior World Rally Championship ended with victory for Finland's Kosti Katajamaki in his Volkswagen Polo. Spaniard Salvador Canellas moved up to second place in his Suzuki Ignis after Britain's Guy Wilks, third in his Ford Puma, hit problems.

The two remaining Citroen Xsara WRCs of Sainz and Colin McRae ran reliably today. Sebastien Loeb retired on Friday when his car ran out of fuel.

Sainz's win on the Rally of Turkey was his first success on a round of the FIA World Rally Championship since Argentina last season. The 40-year-old drove sensibly but quickly through the final day. He started the day 1m 19.5s ahead of Burns and while the Briton narrowed the gap to 47.9 seconds through Sunday, Sainz's lead never looked under threat.

McRae enjoyed a mechanically trouble-free day, but admitted his chances of catching Duval and the final podium position were slim. McRae was happy to reach the finish the rally and retain his second place in the driver's title.

Sainz said: ''Of course I am happy to have won here, but I am also very happy for the team. It is a fantastic result to give Citroen its first win on gravel.''

McRae noted: ''We couldn't afford to back off today. It would have been nice to have caught Duval, but at the same time we had to make sure that we didn't let Gilles past. It would only have taken a half-spin or something for that to happen. Again today some of the stages have been rough, maybe a bit too rough - this is supposed to be a sprint event. I'm happy for the team, though, we've shown what we can do on this type of rally.''

At Peugeot the 206 WRCs of Burns and Marcus Gronholm ran reliably throughout the final leg. Harri Rovanpera retired on the final stage yesterday with suspension damage.

Burns held on to his runners-up spot. He took time out of the leader on every stage today, reducing the deficit by 32.4 seconds. While it wasn't enough to pass Sainz, it was enough to make his second place comfortable from Duval.

Gronholm spent another day running first on the road following his power steering problems of the opening day. The team's decision for him to remain in the running was justified when the Finn collected a single manufacturer's point.

''I pushed hard on the second stage of this morning's loop of stages, that was the plan. I wanted to try and pull out more of a lead on Francois Duval,'' commented Burns. ''We did that and set fastest time. After that it was okay, we drove for the finish without any problems. It's great to be leading the championship again, but at the same time we have to remember that this means we will be running first on the road in New Zealand - that might not be ideal if it stays dry.''

Gronholm admitted: ''The team was right for us to carry on, but it has been hard to keep the motivation up. Now I'm looking forward to New Zealand and not running first on the road for the opening day.''

The Ford Focus RS WRCs of Francois Duval and Markko Martin ran without any problems today.

Duval started and finished the day in the same position. The Belgian said he was pushing quite hard in the faster stages to make sure he could maintain the gap between himself and McRae. Martin moved ahead of Skoda's Toni Gardemeister to take sixth place, which he held until the finish, after a problem-free day on the event.

Duval said: ''It is a great feeling to make the podium for the first time. Malcolm [Wilson, team director], told me the way he wanted me to drive and I did that. The stages have been okay, the car seemed to suit the twistier ones, but I preferred the faster ones.''

Martin continued: ''I am happy that we managed to recover and get some points for the team, from that perspective this is a good result, but it is such a shame that we lost the time on the first day. It's a little bit depressing that we were able to run so well after the problem, depressing because you can just imagine the result we could have had without the problem.''

The third Ford driven by Mikko Hirvonen retired with damaged suspension on SS4.

Toni Gardemeister's Skoda Octavia WRC ran without any mechanical problems through the final leg of the event. A precautionary gearbox change at the end of the second leg forced Gardemeister to run with longer gear ratios through today's five stages. There were no problems with the transmission, but the Finn felt the ratios were too long for the twisty roads. He spun his Octavia twice on the third stage of the day, but enjoyed a clean run through the final two stages of the day.

Gardemeister said: ''I did a little damage to the car today. After I spun, I reversed into a tree and dented the back bumper! I really wasn't driving so well in stage 16. I don't know what it was, it just didn't feel right - I was driving like my grandmother. I needed to go quicker, but there was nothing I could do to keep Markko Martin behind me. I've got to the finish of the rally with some points for myself and for the team, though - that's good.''

At Subaru meanwhile Tommi Makinen's car suffered a minor gearbox problem on the third stage of the day, other than that it was mechanically sound.

Makinen started and finished the day in eighth place overall. The four-times world champion enjoyed a trouble-free day for the most part, save for the gearbox glitch, which lasted a couple of minutes after the third stage. He made up one minute on seventh-placed Gardemeister, but still ended the day two minutes off the Skoda driver after loosing a lot of time with suspension trouble on the second day.

Makinen said: ''The gearbox was a little strange. We went through a watersplash and then it started to do its own thing. I was in second gear and accelerating hard and it just selected fifth gear. It was being crazy like this for a few kilometres, then it sorted itself out. It's good to finish this event, it was much tougher than we expected. It's disappointing for me that before the problems we were making some good times.''

David Lapworth, Subaru team boss, added: ''Obviously we're disappointed with the result, but we're pleased with many aspects of our performance and we go away from here full of confidence ahead of New Zealand. It's been a well-run event, which showed that it deserved a place in the FIA World Rally Championship.''

Petter Solberg retired the other Impreza on Friday with a broken track rod end.

At Hyundai the turbo on Freddy Loix's car, was slowly losing power through the final day, otherwise it was mechanically fine. Armin Schwarz went out yesterday in the very first stage when his suspension failed.

When Loix suffered a blown turbo at the end of the second leg, the team was forced to refit his car with the turbo he'd used on the opening loop of stages on day one. Loix admitted that this compromised performance, but the team had no other choice. Loix started the day ninth, but dropped back one place when Gronholm passed him on the penultimate stage of the day, losing the final manufacturer's point in the process.

Loix said: ''Obviously the team wanted me to try and hold Marcus off, but there is really nothing I could do when I am using the same turbo I started the rally with. The car was down on power, which makes the job very hard to do.''

Of the other entries Kosti Katajamaki won his first ever round of the FIA Junior World Rally Championship today. The Volkswagen driver suffered a clutch problem for much of the day, but he was able to drive around it on the stages. He admitted that he wasn't pushing as hard through the final day, given that he held a two-minute lead over Guy Wilks [Ford Puma].

Wilks missed out on second place though after his gearbox jammed itself in third gear in the penultimate stage. The British driver was forced to drive through the remainder of SS17 and all of the final stage with the car in this condition. Wilks' problems allowed Salvador Canellas to move up to second place, some consolation after his fellow Suzuki Ignis driver - and long time leader - Daniel Carlsson retired with suspension trouble. He was lying third at the time.

Renault Clio driver Simon-Jean Joseph won the A6 class overall, but he is not registered for the FIA JWRC.

Among the top non-works drivers, Gilles Panizzi finished fifth overall, his best finish on a gravel round of the championship. Panizzi said the final day had been without any problems aboard his Bozian-run Peugeot 206 WRC. Panizzi's team-mate Juuso Pykalisto suffered a clutch problem on the final day, but still managed 11th place overall.

Rally statistics - Leg 3:

Starters: 29 crews (27 Group A and 2 Group N) started this morning.

Retirements: 2 drivers.

Today - Sunday 9 February: Leg 3 started from Kemer at 07h00 and covered 320.95km, including 84.01km on five stages.

Stage by stage summary - Leg 3:

SS14 Simena 2 (13.40kms):
1. McRae (GB) Citroen 1m 51.3
2. Martin (EE) Ford 1m 51.4
3. Burns (GB) Peugeot 1m 52.0

Leaders after SS14:
1. Sainz (E) Citroen 3h 28m 42.0
2. Burns (GB) Peugeot 3h 30m 01.4
3. Duval (B) Ford 3h 30m 27.1

SS15 Myra 2 (24.01km):
1. Burns (GB) Peugeot 21m 20.7
2. Gronholm (FIN) Peugeot 21m 25.0
3. Martin (EE) Ford 21m 25.6

Leaders after SS15:
1. Sainz (E) Citroen 3h 50m 13.3
2. Burns (GB) Peugeot 3h 51m 22.1
3. Duval (B) Ford 3h 52m 13.3

SS16 Arykanda (12.00kms):
1. Duval (B) Ford 8m 13.4
2. Martin (EE) Ford 8m 13.8
3. McRae (GB) Citroen 8m 13.9

Leaders after SS6:
1. Sainz (E) Citroen 3h 58m 31.6
2. Burns (GB) Peugeot 3h 59m 40.0
3. Duval (B) Ford 4h 00m 26.7

SS17 Perge 2 (24.97kms):
1. Gronholm (FIN) Peugeot 18m 13.8
2. Burns (GB) Peugeot 18m 24.0
3. Martin (EE) Ford 18m 24.1

Leaders after SS7:
1. Sainz (E) Citroen 4h 16m 58.8
2. Burns (GB) Peugeot 4h 18m 04.0
3. Duval (B) Ford 4h 18m 57.5

SS18 Kemer 2 (20.50kms):
1. Gronholm (FIN) Peugeot 14m 46.5
2. C.McRae (GB) Citroen 14m 56.1
3. Burns (GB) Peugeot 14m 58.0

Leaders after SS18:
1. Sainz (E) Citroen 4h 32m 14.1
2. Burns (GB) Peugeot +47.9
3. Duval (B) Ford +1m 46.5
4. C.McRae (GB) Citroen +2m 09.1
5. Panizzi (F) Peugeot +2m 41.6
6. Martin (EE) Ford +3m 24.9
7. Gardemeister (FIN) Skoda +5m 13.0
8. Makinen (FIN) Subaru +7m 18.6
9. Gronholm (FIN) Peugeot +10m 52.2
10. Loix (B) Hyundai +11m 40.4

Junior WRC leaders after SS18:
1. Katajamaki (FIN) Volkswagen 5h 08m 56.6
2. Canellas (E) Suzuki +5m 04.8
3. Wilks (GB) Ford +9m 08.5
4. Teuronen (FIN) Suzuki +13m 22.6
5. Cecchettini (I) FIAT +29m 09.0
6. Feghali (RL) Ford +41m 21.4
7. Iliev (BG) Peugeot +57m 42.8

Final rally statistics:

Event: The rally covered 1193.85km, including 337.88km on 18 special stages (including seven run twice). All stages were on gravel roads closed to other traffic.

Starters: 58 crews (53 Group A and 5 Group N) started the rally.

Finishers: 27 crews (25 Group A and 2 Group N) finished the rally.

Stage winners:
Gronholm (SS1-SS9-SS17-SS18)
Rovanpera (SS2-SS4-SS6-SS7)
Solberg (SS3)
Martin (SS5-SS12)
Sainz (SS8-SS10-SS13)
Burns (SS11-SS15)
McRae (SS14)
Duval (SS16)

Rally leaders:
SS1 Gronholm
SS2-SS3 Solberg
SS4-SS9 Rovanpera
SS9-SS18 Sainz

FIA World Rally Championships:

FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers (provisional standings after 3 of 14 rounds): Burns (GB) 18, C. McRae (GB) 17, Sainz (E) 16, Martin (EE) 13, Loeb (F) 12, Gronholm (FIN) 10, Makinen (FIN) 9, Duval (B) 8, Panizzi (F) 4, Solberg (N) 3, Robert (F) 3, Gardemeister (FIN) 3, Schwarz (D) 1.

FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers (provisional standings after 3 of 14 rounds): Citroen 39, Peugeot 31, Ford 25, Subaru 13, Skoda 6, Hyundai 3.

FIA Junior World Rally Championship (after 2 of 7 rounds): Tirabassi (F) 10, Katajamaki (FIN) 10, Ligato (I) 8, Canellas (E) 8, Broccoli (RSM) 6, Wilks (GB) 6, Aava (EE) 5, Teuronen (FIN) 5, Cecchettini (I) 4, Ceccato (I) 4, Feghali (RL) 3, Sebalj (HR) 3, Baldacci (RSM) 2, Iliev (BG) 2, Harrach (A) 1.

FIA Production Car World Championship (after 1 of 7 rounds, this event not counting): Blomqvist (S) 10, Singh (MAL) 8, Rowe (GB) 6, Bourne (NZ) 5, Holowczyc (PL) 4, Roman (S) 3, Sztuka (PL) 2, Richard (CAN) 1.

Next event: April 9 - 13, Propecia Rally New Zealand, Auckland, New Zealand.