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Burn breaks drought in NZ

Slideways: Burns managed to hang on to the NZ lead despite driving first on the slippery gravel stages.

Victory in New Zealand for Richard Burns and Subaru propels both up the points tables

24 Sep 2001

RICHARD Burns has scored his first victory of the season, taking out the 10th round of the FIA World Rally Championship, the Rally New Zealand.

Burns was placed eighth at the end of the first day, but moved into the lead on the opening stage of day two and was never headed.

"I always knew a win would come sometime this year," Burns said.

"The result certainly opens up the championship for us - we're now only nine points off the lead and as we've seen here, rallies can be won and lost by very small things." Colin McRae finished second in the Ford Focus, despite spinning on the penultimate stage and stalling the car. He was forced to push hard on the last stage to safeguard the runner-up position.

Harri Rovanpera took third to be the first of three Peugeot drivers to finish in the top six. The Finn dropped to fourth on the final day's second stage after stalling his 206 WRC on a tight bend, but managed to regain his podium placing after a mistake from Carlos Sainz just three corners from the finish.

Sainz ended up in fourth, just over two seconds behind Rovanpera, but with a three second buffer to defending champion Marcus Gronholm.

Gronholm would have finished ahead of Rovanpera and Sainz had he not jumped the start on the final stage of the rally.

The last of the Peugeot 206 drivers Didier Auriol was sixth, ahead of Burns' Subaru teammate Petter Solberg, taking out the final points position in seventh.

It was a controversial rally this year, with the move from the southern hemisphere winter to spring transforming the event from a wet one to a dry one.

As a result, the first cars to tackle the stages had to plough through loose gravel coating the smooth, flowing roads, sweeping them clear to the benefit of those behind who enjoyed a cleaner line.

As such the event was dominated by tactical manoeuvring, as crews tried desperately to avoid running first on the road.

Tommi Makinen and McRae are tied on top of the drivers' championship table with 40-points each, after Makinen failed to score any points in this event.

Burns has jumped from fifth to third, relegating Sainz and Rovanpera to fourth and fifth respectively. The Briton has now scored 16 points in the last two events and is a definite chance for his first driver's title with four events remaining.

Ford moved into a clear lead in the manufacturers' championship after the 10-point haul from McRae and Sainz pushed the team ahead of Mitsubishi. Subaru edged into third, two points ahead of Peugeot, courtesy of Burns' victory.

1 Richard Burns (Subaru) 3hr47min28sec
2 C McRae (Ford) +44.6sec
3 H Rovanpera (Peugeot) +50.1sec
4 C Sainz (Ford) +52.2sec
5 M Gronholm (Peugeot) +55.8sec
6 D Auriol (Peugeot) +1min11.3sec
7 P Solberg (Subaru) +2min15.8sec
8 T Makinen (Mitsubishi) +2min21sec
9 A McRae (Hyundai) +3min33.8sec
10 K Eriksson (Hyundai) +4min21.9sec DRIVERS' CHAMPIONSHIP
1 Makinen (FIN) 40
2 McRae (GB) 40
3 Burns (GB) 31
4 Sainz (ESP) 30
5 Rovanpera (FIN) 27
6 Gronholm (FIN) 16
7 Delecour (FRA) 14
8 Auriol (FRA) 11
9 Solberg (NOR) 9
1 Ford 76
2 Mitsubishi 66
3 Subaru 46
4 Peugeot 44
5 Skoda 15
6 Hyundai 10 Next round: San Remo Rally, October 5-7

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