From Ben Mulkern [ 22/09/2002 ].
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Peugeot's Gilles Panizzi led the San Remo Rally from stage two to the finish to make it three wins in a row on the Italian event, and to take the mantle of arguably the best asphalt racer of all time. The Frenchman defied a serious shoulder injury the deep scars give testimony to the surgery he underwent just a few weeks ago) to secure an easy win, some 20 seconds ahead of his team-mate Marcus Gronholm. Those six points for Marcus (pictured) leave him just one win away from a second world title, and it is highly likely that the Finn will celebrate that title in the next event in New Zealand. Petter Solberg secured a fine third place for Subaru, after an event long battle with Richard Burns.
The drive of the event came, arguably, from Markko Martin on the Focus WRC, who finished in fifth place well ahead of his team-mate Colin McRae. The Estonian got to grips with the M-Sport machine immediately and showed just how far he has improved by securing two championship points. McRae's performance on the event remains a mystery - he finished a lowly eighth position without suffering any major mishaps - the Scot could only say that he had struggled with a series of minor niggles, but everyone knows that his car for 2003 was the foremost thing on his mind.
Jesus Puras finished in the last championship points place in the Piedrafita Xsara, a result which the Spaniard will be disappointed with in his likely swansong for Citroen in the world championship. His team colleague Philippe Bugalski's event finished acruptly on stage 14 when the Frenchman crashed heavily in his Xsara.
The championship moves to New Zealand next for the Propecia Rally of New Zealand - the event runs from 3 to 7 October 2002.