7 August 2005
Gronholm breaks '05 duck.
Peugeot number one driver, Marcus Gronholm secured his first victory of the season Sunday in his native Finland. Gronholm won 11 of the events 21 stages and eventually triumphed by over 1 minute.
Although his margin over Sebastien Loeb at the finish, suggested it was a dominant victory it was by no means easy, and the two were split by only 5 seconds following leg 1 on Friday.
During the second leg though, Marcus put in a charge and by the end of SS16, had built a 30-odd second cushion, only to have that doubled in the final test on Saturday, when Loeb suffered a puncture.
The final day was all about survival and Gronholm did what was necessary to get it to the finish and take his fifth victory on home soil in six years.
Gronholm's biggest scare came after a heavy landing in SS5 on Friday, which left his co-driver, Timo Rautiainen, quite badly injured. That even put a question mark over whether or not they could continue. Thankfully though, Rautiainen was fixed up in service and although Marcus admitted to having to take it easy over the subsequent jumps on the remainder of the event, it didn't stop him taking the win.
Loeb meanwhile took the runners-up spot and while he admitted he was disappointed to see his run of wins, which began back in New Zealand in April, come to an end he nevertheless scored another eight points. He now leads the title race by 28 points, with Gronholm in second, having moved up following his win.
Markko Martin took the final spot on the podium after a promising event. The Estonian seemingly, having finally got to grips with the 307. His third place and Gronholm's first, was enough to put Peugeot back in the lead in the Constructors' championship, albeit though only one point ahead of Citroen.
Furtherdown the leaderboard, Petter Solberg had a trouble-free final leg, after his issues on Friday and Saturday, the Norwegian holding off Mikko Hirvonen to take fourth. Hirvonen finished up just 5.6 seconds behind after a good showing and the Finn was pleased with his performance after being nominated by Ford to drive their second works car.
Toni Gardemeister was sixth in the sister works Focus, the Finn getting the better of Mitsubishi ace, Harri Rovanpera on the first test Sunday. However Gardemeister's puncture on Saturday proved decisive and ultimately cost him fourth.
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