News - Peugeot - 206 - WRC
Peugeot scores one-two in Spain
French teams and drivers controlled the Catalunya Rally from start to finish, with Peugeot victorious as Citroen faltered
27 Mar 2001
By JUSTIN LACY
PEUGEOT is back in the race for the world rally championship with a one-two result in the Rallye de Catalunya.
The French manufacturer has jumped from sixth to third in the manufacturers title after securing maximum points from the fourth round and is now just two points behind Ford.
Didier Auriol won the event for Peugeot, notching up his first points for the season. It was his first victory since the Rally of China in 1999, after spending last season in an uncompetitive car with the Seat team.
"We've had some bad luck in the events so far but we've been on the pace here from the first stage. The car has handled really well and I know we have a good setting for asphalt now," Auriol said "It's a great day for Peugeot and hopefully we can use this result as a good starting point for our championship challenge." Auriol was followed home by teammate and tarmac specialist Gilles Panizzi, helping Peugeot increase its manufacturers' tally from 4 points - after the first three rounds - to 20.
Tommi Makinen extended his lead in the drivers' championship, adding four points to his total with a finish on the third step of the podium.
Despite running out of kilometres to mount an assault on second-placed Panizzi, Makinen set some top stage times that underline the potency of the revised Lancer Evolution on asphalt.
Citroen almost stole the show with a debut victory for the Xsara T4 world rally car.
Jesus Puras led from team-mate Phillipe Bugalski at the end of the first day, but suffered a lack of fuel pressure after stage 11 on day two and was forced to retire.
Bugalski kept the ball rolling for Citroen recording a total of eight fastest stage times and held the lead overnight, before a loss of hydraulic clutch pressure robbed him of victory.
He received a two-minute penalty for starting a stage late and then a further 10-second penalty in service as the team made repairs, dropping him to fourth and out of contention.
In the post-rally wash-up Citroen sought clarification on whether the two-minute penalty should be halved, believing Bugalski was actually in a position to start the stage only one minute late.
Citroen provided onboard footage to substantiate its claims, but it backfired when the stewards also found him guilty of a false start and penalised him a further two minutes.
So after finishing the rally in fourth place, the extra penalty dropped Bugalski to eighth and out of the points. Citroen decided not to protest the decision.
Despite its obvious disappointment, the Citroen team proved the Xsara is a force to be reckoned with on asphalt and will be a serious contender on the remaining asphalt rounds of the championship.
It also showed that their 1999 Catalunya Rally victory with the Xsara kit car was no fluke.
"This situation is obviously disappointing but only in part because the car showed that it was competitive over the three days. I am happy too because I stayed leader for most of the rally," Bugalski said.
"The clutch problem caused me to lose three places right near the finish. We finished many other races without any trouble at all and it's now that a little problem occurs and puts an end to a rally. It's a shame but that's how it is in sport." Freddy Loix and Sven Smeets acquitted themselves superbly in the Mitsubishi Carisma GT overhauling former world champion Carlos Sainz, and Ford team-mate Francois Delecour, to claim fourth place.
They were also faster than Makinen on three stages during the final day and richly deserve their second points of the season.
Carlos Sainz and Luis Moya continued to be the most consistent pairing in the championship claiming their fourth point-scoring finish in as many events.
The Spanish duo tightened their grip on second place in the drivers' title as well as edging Ford two points clear of Peugeot in the manufacturers' standings.
Delecour was promoted to the final points position after Bugalski time penalty was doubled.
The next round of the championship is the Rally of Argentina from May 3 to 6. The gravel event is the first rally outside Europe this season.
Tommi Makinen continues as favourite for the title this year, especially as he scored a hat-trick of wins at the South American event between 1996 and 1998.
OUTRIGHT RESULTS 1. D Auriol/D Giraudet (FRA) Peugeot 206 WRC 3hr40min54.7sec 2. G Panizzi/H Panizzi (FRA) Peugeot 206 WRC 3hr41min17.9sec 3. T Makinen/R Mannisenmaki (FIN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 3hr41min56.1sec 4. F Loix/S Smeets (BEL) Mitsubishi Carisma GT 3hr43min11.4sec 5. C Sainz/L Moya (ESP) Ford Focus RS 3hr43min30.4sec 6. F Delecour/D Grataloup (FRA) Ford Focus RS 3hr43min38.4sec 7. R Burns/R Reid (GB) Subaru Impreza WRC 3hr43min57.5sec 8. P Bugalski/J-P Chiaroni (FRA) Citroen Xsara WRC 3hr44min20.4sec 9. S Jean-Joseph/J Boyere (FRA) Peugeot 206 WRC 3hr45min54.0sec 10. B Thiry/S Prevot (BEL) Skoda Octavia WRC 3hr46min58.6sec DRIVERS' CHAMPIONSHIP 1. Tommi Makinen 24 2. Carlos Sainz 18 =3. Harri Rovanpera 10 =3. Didier Auriol 10 5. Francois Delecour 9 =6. Thomas Radstrom 6 =6. Gilles Panizzi 6 8. Toni Gardemeister 5 =9. Marcus Gronholm 4 =9. Freddy Loix 4 =11. Richard Burns 3 =11. Armin Schwarz 3 =13. Petter Solberg 1 =13. Alister McRae 1 MANUFACTURERS' CHAMPIONSHIP Mitsubishi 40 Ford 22 Peugeot 20 Hyundai 8 Subaru 8 Skoda 6 Citroen 0
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