WRC » 13 April 2003
Gronholm takes second win of 2003 in NZ.
Peugeot boss Corrado Provera added: ''This is a fantastic result. Once again Marcus has driven a fantastic rally, as has Richard. Richard suffered a little bit on the first day with the conditions, today he has shown that he is close with Marcus. I am very happy for the whole team that Peugeot is on top in the manufacturer's championship and Richard and Marcus are first and second for the drivers. I do feel a sorry for Harri that he retired yesterday and has still to score his first points this season.''
At Subaru both Solberg and Tommi Makinen's Subaru Impreza WRC 2003s ran without mechanical problems.
Solberg made it to the finish with his third place intact after a sensible drive through the final leg. The suspension set-up of the car wasn't quite to his liking through the two Te Akau stages. He suffered four broken mousse inserts in his tyres on the final four stages, however. None of the tyres delaminated, but Solberg admitted the vibration had been very bad.
Makinen ended the event in seventh, despite taking the wrong tyres for the first loop of two stages this morning. A five-minute penalty was imposed on Makinen for a speeding offence on the way to the first stage yesterday.
Solberg said: ''The tyre problem was pretty bad, but luckily this time the tyres didn't de-laminate or go down on us, we could have lost more time. I came here wanting to score points, I have done that and so I must be happy, but this isn't really the way I wanted to drive here in New Zealand, I wanted to push and take risks.''
Makinen noted: ''The tyres were too soft and too narrow to work on those stages. We thought the weather was going to be a little bit colder and wetter, in the end it was quite sunny and the roads were too aggressive for the tyres we had on, they went off on both of the stages. It is always good to get some points from a rally and we have done that for us and for the team.''
Over at Citroen Sebastien Loeb's Xsara WRC suffered a gearbox sensor problem on the second stage this morning, but Carlos Sainz's car was mechanically reliable. Colin McRae retired with broken suspension on the first leg.
Loeb maintained his fourth position, despite dropping one minute on the second stage this morning with a transmission problem. Sainz moved up from an overnight 23rd overall to end the event in 12th place, despite sweeping the road clean for the remainder of the field. His only problem today came when he went off the road on the final stage.
Loeb commented: ''Not far after the start of the second stage, the display for the gearbox wasn't working right at all. The sensor that was broken was also one controlling the differentials. I decided to switch to the manual gearshift, but this meant the car was quite hard to drive - it cost me quite a lot of time. On the whole I am happy with the way the rally has gone. To finish fourth on my first attempt is good.''
Sainz added: ''Running first on the road has been really hard work today. In these hot and dry conditions, the stages were covered in the stones, which I had to sweep for everybody. It wasn't so good. The problem I had later in the day was a small one on the last stage. My co-driver got a little mixed up with his notes and told me to take a corner flat out when it should have been a fifth-gear corner. We went off the road at high speed, but came straight back on with a little bodywork damage.''
Didier Auriol's Skoda Octavia WRC suffered a turbo problem through the afternoon, costing the Frenchman power. The exhaust on his Octavia was also broken on the penultimate test. Toni Gardemeister's car was reliable all day.
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