27 July 2003
Loeb takes Rallye Deutschland victory.
The final Xsara of Carlos Sainz was also stuck in a final-stage fight - the Spaniard continuing to trade times with Ford's Francois Duval. Not having enjoyed this event, Sainz finally had something to celebrate as he beat his former team-mate by 9.5s.
''It is a fantastic result to win this event again,'' said Loeb. ''The fight with Marcus through the last few stages was amazing. I thought we had enough going into the last stage - but then I saw the split time and knew I was only three seconds ahead I had to put in the maximum attack for the last part - but it worked.''
McRae added: ''All of our good work this morning was spoiled when we spun. There was some gravel in a corner and the back of the car just got away. It was a real slow one though, we had to do loads of shunting forward and backwards.''
Sainz continued: ''I'm quite glad to get this rally finished. It hasn't been the best for me, but you have some rallies like this. Today has been a big fight with Francois, which has made the final day more interesting.''
At Peugeot meanwhile Gilles Panizzi's 206 WRC suffered suspension problems through the first loop of stages this morning, while Gronholm and Burns' cars ran without fault.
Gronholm hit a kerb on the first stage this morning, damaging the front-right suspension on his car and dropping him further behind Loeb. The Finn then dropped more time through the final loop, ending the event in second place.
Burns was slowed by a spin mid-way through the first stage of the morning, but other than that he enjoyed a trouble-free run to clinch the final podium place after a fascinating battle with McRae. Panizzi was at a loss to explain the suspension trouble, but it cost him enough time to drop him behind Petter Solberg and Cedric Robert. Robert's works-specification, Bozian-run 206 arrived at the finish one place ahead of Panizzi in ninth spot.
Gronholm commented: ''Before I even hit the kerb, I'd dropped some time when I ran wide at one junction. When I broke the suspension, there was a big bang and then it was hard to keep the car straight. I tried to fix the problem after the stage, but there wasn't time. I got it almost fixed for the third run - but it was not 100 per cent perfect. A win would have been nice, but at least we've got some points from this event.''
Burns noted: ''We got some luck with the weather on that first loop - it's about time after the way we kept catching the worse of it yesterday. It was only drizzling for us on part of the stage. The spin was a real shame this morning, prior to that we'd been up on Colin [McRae - who won the stage] at the split. This was a real fight to the finish and a tough rally.''
Panizzi continued: ''The team changed the suspension last night, I don't know what happened - yesterday the car was running okay, but then today it has some very strange handling. I don't know whether the suspension is broken or whether it is just the wrong set-up, whatever it is - it's not right. This combined with the brake problems we had earlier in the rally have made this a disappointing event.''
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