WRC » 11 May 2003
Gronholm wins in Argentina.
Rovanpera continued: ''After the terrible start to the season that I have had, I am quite glad to make it to the finish in fourth place. This is always a tough rally and this year has been more of the same. We had a few problems during the day, but okay we are here.''
At Citroen Sainz's Citroen Xsara WRC ran without mechanical fault through the final leg. Sebastien Loeb crashed off the road yesterday, while Colin McRae retired on Friday when his car caught fire.
Sainz dropped time to Gronholm on the opening test of leg three, but went quickest on the next stage. The Spaniard admitted he was pushing as hard as he could, and found himself embroiled in a battle for second place with Burns. Burns passed him on the penultimate stage, but Sainz re-passed him for the place on the final competitive section of the rally.
Sainz said: ''I have been going at the absolute maximum through the stages today. Marcus was always going to be very hard to beat, but I had hoped to keep Richard behind me. We had some small problems, nearly stalling on the start line of one stage and then nearly stalling in the middle of another stage. After the position we were in yesterday, this is disappointing, but still we have good points for the championship.''
Over at Subaru Petter Solberg's Impreza WRC03 ran without fault through the final leg.
Solberg spent another day altering the set-up of his car. He caught Francois Duval in SS22, losing some time in the Belgian driver's dust, but still made it home in fifth place, picking up four championship points. The team took the decision to withdraw Tommi Makinen at the end of leg two, happy with the test data they had gained throughout Saturday.
Solberg noted: ''You wouldn't believe how much we have changed the car over the past three days, but all of the time the car has been getting better and better. I am really growing in confidence with the suspension now. The gaps ahead and behind were big, so for us today was another test day.''
Team boss, David Lapworth commented: ''I'm very pleased with the way Petter and Tommi have performed. We had some new parts on the car here and they have worked very well. If you take away the time both of the cars lost, then you can see that we are right up the at the sharp end.''
Both Skoda Octavia WRCs ran without any mechanical problems during leg three. Auriol admitted that his car still didn't feel quite right on the bumpier stages, but he was doing enough to keep his team-mate Toni Gardemeister at bay. Both the Skoda drivers benefited from the retirement of Armin Schwarz, moving in to the sixth and seventh positions they would hold until the end of the event.
Auriol said: ''Today hasn't been too bad. We took off on the biggest jump on the second stage this morning and flew, the car landed on its side - it was very close to an accident. The biggest jump of my life. This has been a long event, and towards the end we were pushing really hard to try to catch Armin, but then he retired and we got the sixth place. I am happy with the result.''
Gardemeister continued: ''Looking at the times, you always start to wonder what the result would have been like without the penalty and without the problems we have had during the event. You can always say that, this is the way with rallying. The stages today have been good. It was strange this morning, maybe we were struggling with the traction or something, it felt good while I was driving - but the times were not so good.''
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