Peugeot #1 Marcus Gronholm scored his first victory since Argentina last year today [Sunday] in Cyprus to move into the lead of the drivers' championship.

His winning margin over Sebastien Loeb was 54 seconds and he now leads the series by a single point from the Frenchman.

Gronholm put in a storming drive, and never looked threatened through the final leg, the Finn notching up what is the first ever victory for the new 307 WRC.

"It's been a fantastic rally for me, and of course it's a real privilege to take the first win with the 307," he noted. "We've come close to winning before this year, but this time it was a rally where everything went right for us. The car has been generally reliable and we haven't made any mistakes. The whole team has worked very hard and everybody deserves this result. Now we are looking forward to Greece, where of course we will be trying to win again."

Loeb survived a small fire at the rear of the car near the end of stage 13, and despite not ever being in contention for the victory, was happy with his weekend's work.

"Above all, I wanted a top result here in order to stay in the leading pack in the drivers' championship," stated the Frenchman, "Obviously, if a chance to win had come my way, I would have snapped it up and I certainly kept my eyes open. but Marcus Gronholm was very quick and gave absolutely nothing away. Compared with last year, the gap between us and the winner, has been divided by five and we finished one place higher, even though there were practically no retirements. That speaks volumes for the fantastic work the team has done on the car."

Team-mate Carlos Sainz finished fourth behind Ford's Markko Martin and ahead of Harri Rovanpera, who had another replacement gearbox fitted midway through the day after continued troubles.

Martin, like Loeb was happy to finish on the podium, especially after he had started first on the road on Friday, 'sweeping away' the loose gravel.

"We were first to tackle the stages on Friday and that was a difficult day, but we knew that was going to be the case," reflected Ford's team leader. "Once you lose time here, it's hard to regain it. I'm happy to be third in the championship going into the next round in Greece because that will give us a better start position. I'm actually pleased not to be leading because it would be a big disadvantage to have to start first during the opening day there. I think we'll be strong there."

Rovanpera meanwhile could only think of what could have been...

"I could have been on the podium if we had not had some gearbox problems," reckoned the Finn, before adding more positively: "Although that's disappointing, there are a lot of positive things to come out of this. I have been able to drive at the same speed as Marcus, and the car has clearly shown its potential. I feel more and more confident with the 307 WRC and I can't wait for the next rally!"

Petter Solberg climbed back to sixth after his opening day problems, moving ahead of his Subaru team-mate Mikko Hirvonen who lost time after hitting a rock and breaking his car's power steering on stage 13.

Solberg though was also disappointed that his radiator problems on day one, had robbed him of any chance of going for the win.

"For me, the rally started better than it finished and obviously I'm still disappointed about the radiator problem," he noted. "But, without that it would have been a perfect rally. We should have had more points but I'm still pleased to take something away. The car is perfect and I'm sure it will be really good on the next two rallies. As far as the championship goes, there are still plenty of rounds to go this year - so I'm focusing now on better fortunes in Greece. I'm sure the lessons we have learned here will be of great use."

The final drivers' point went to the M-Sport-run Focus RS of Janne Tuohino in eighth, while Alister Ginley and Miguel Campos completed the top ten.

In total 22 cars finished the event, out of 38 starts, the most noticeably retirements, being the 'works' cars of Francois Duval, Kristian Sohlberg and Gilles Panizzi.

The World Rally championship now heads to Greece in three weeks time for the 51st Acropolis Rally. Based around the town of Lamia, the event bears a close resemblance to Cyprus, presenting drivers with a series of rocky, dry stages. With a reputation as one of the toughest events in the Championship, a combination of searing temperatures and rough stages make it a gruelling challenge for cars and drivers alike. Beginning on Thursday 3 June with a sprint round the super special in Lilea, the Rally will conclude at on Sunday 6 June at 1453hrs.