20 August 2006
Gronholm proves again he is 'Mr Finland'.
Janne Tuohino took sixth in his PH Sport-run Citroen Xsara, followed by Mitsubishi privateer, Jussi Valimaki and Jan Kopecky, who rounded out the top eight in his Czech Rally team Skoda Fabia WRC.
Manfred Stohl finished the event in ninth, in the second OMV Peugeot after losing bucket loads of time on day one in the second loop. Stohl had intercom issues in SS5, which meant he couldn't hear his co-driver and then had an off in SS6. The latter incident cost the OMV Peugeot ace more than 5 minutes. He ended the first leg in 18th position, but gradually hauled himself back up the leaderboard on day two and three, to scoop 5 manufacturers' points for the team.
Stobart VK's Matthew Wilson also had to battle his way back up the standings and he ended the event one place further back. Wilson Jr lost over 3 minutes on SS2 when he had to stop to change a puncture, without that he would probably have finished around eighth.
Chris Atkinson and Kosti Katajmaki were the only other two drivers' eligible to score manufacturers' points who made it to the finish - they ended up in 13th and 14th place respectively behind Group N winner, Anton Alen and Patrik Flodin. Atkinson finished the first day in sixth in the second works Subaru Impreza, but lost loads and loads of time on the first loop on Saturday when he had gearbox problems that left him stuck in third. After losing over 12 minutes as a result of that he was never going to get a good result and as such he used the remaining stages to test for the next event in Japan.
Katajamaki started well on Friday and was running as high as eighth when he had to retire from the first leg after hitting a rock in SS7. He re-started under the SupeRally and despite hitting another rock in SS12, the same one that cost Loeb 30 seconds, he continued to make progress and finished up taking the final manufacturers' point for the Stobart squad.
There were three significant retirements all going out on day two, namely Subaru team leader, Petter Solberg and Kronos duo, Xavier Pons and Daniel Sordo.
Solberg crashed out in SS11, the first run through the 13.98 kilometre Ouninpohja Lansi stage. Just 700 metres from the start, on a fast section, the rear of Petter's Impreza drifted wide over a crest and touched a bank, launching the vehicle into a series of rolls. Solberg and co-driver Phil Mills were shaken but uninjured in the crash, but their Impreza was too badly damaged to continue.
Xavier Pons also crashed out in the same test, rolling his Kronos-run Citroen Xsara WRC. Immediately after their off Pons and his co-driver, Carlos del Barrio rang the Belgian-based squad to confirm they were both OK.
Sordo went out on the Ouninpohja Lansi stage too, but on the second run through it as SS14. Sordo's Xsara WRC left the road straight after a jump and while Sordo and co-driver Marc Marti were uninjured, the mechanical damage to the car meant they could not continue.
In the Junior WRC, Guy Wilks took the win, heading home a Suzuki 1-2, with his team-mate, Per-Gunnar Andersson second, over 2.5 minutes further back. Wilks took the lead in the JWRC on Saturday, after Kris Meeke went out in SS15. The Englishman won seven of the eight stages on Saturday and he and P-G took two a piece on Sunday.
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