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Puras the driven Citroen

First win: Jesus Puras and Citroen both scored their maiden victories at the world rally championship's top level.

Spanish specialist takes win for Citroen, but Peugeot grabs championship points

23 Oct 2001

CITROEN driver and tarmac specialist Jesus Puras scored his first world rally championship victory on the weekend, taking out the 45th running of the Tour de Corse on the French island of Corsica.

Puras and co-driver Marc Marti took control of the rally on the second stage and never surrendered it, navigating the fast asphalt roads and wet conditions in their Xsara world rally car to win by 17.5 seconds from main rival, Peugeot's Gilles Panizzi.

"It was so difficult over the final couple of stages but the feeling is unbelievable. When I saw the rain coming I couldn't believe it and I started to get nervous but then I just told myself, 'You have a 30-second lead' and I tried to drive perfectly and not make mistakes," Puras said.

"This means a lot to me and it's a fantastic result for Citroën too. Our goal this year was to win one of the four WRC events that we entered and now we've achieved that." The victory was a first for both Puras and Citroën, as the French manufacturer prepares for a full assault on next year's world rally championship with the Xsara coupe.

Panizzi's runner-up finish comes hot on the heels of his win in the San Remo rally a fortnight ago and confirms the Frenchman's status as one of the best tarmac drivers in world rally.

Panizzi's Peugeot teammate Didier Auriol finished third, well clear of Subaru's Richard Burns in fourth, who was the only championship contender to score points at this round.

Burns staged a spectacular comeback after nearly crashing out of the rally on the second stage to be fastest on the final stage, while his teammate Petter Solberg took fifth after he was asked by the Subaru team to deliberately incur a time penalty at the final control.

The two-minute penalty gave Burns fourth place and allowed him to score an extra world championship point - he is now one point ahead of Carlos Sainz, who retired on stage two with an oil pressure failure in his Ford Focus.

Subaru's third driver, Estonian Markko Martin, finished sixth after surviving the wet conditions that saw him crash out in San Remo.

Joint championship leader Tommi Makinen crashed out on the fifth stage but retained his place in the drivers' standings after Colin McRae finished well down the order and out of the points in 11th.

Only seven points now separate the top four drivers - Makinen, McRae, Burns and Sainz - with just two rounds remaining.

With Citroën not registered for manufacturers' points, Peugeot picked up the maximum haul of 16-points from second and third placed drivers Panizzi and Auriol to move the French marque into second place in the championship.

Ford is still the number one manufacturer, although its previous 16-point lead has been reduced to just seven points. Mitsubishi has dropped to third, while Subaru remain in fourth.

1 Jesus Puras (Citroen Xsara) 3hr58min35.5sec
2 G Panizzi (Peugeot 206) +17.5
3 D Auriol (Peugeot 206) +1:11.9
4 R Burns (Subaru Impreza) +4:53.1
5 P Solberg (Subaru Impreza) +4:53.9
6 M Martin (Subaru Impreza) +5:21.6
7 Harri Rovanpera (Peugeot 206) +7:26.9
8 Piero Liatti (Hyundai Accent) +8:09.2
9 Alister McRae (Hyundai Accent) +8:52.7
10 Francois Delecour (Ford Focus RS) +10:06.1 DRIVERS' CHAMPIONSHIP
1 Makinen (FIN) 40 points
2 C McRae (GB) 40
3 Burns (GB) 34
4 Sainz (ESP) 33
5 Rovanpera (FIN) 27
6 Panizzi (FRA) 22
7 Auriol (FRA) 19
8 Gronholm (FIN) 16
9 Delecour (FRA) 15
1 Ford 83 points
2 Peugeot 76
3 Mitsubishi 67
4 Subaru 55
5 Skoda 15
6 Hyundai 13 Next round: Telstra Rally Australia, November 2-4

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