Peugeot excited about Deutschland

Peugeot excited about DeutschlandFrom Chris Biewer [ 17/08/2004 ].
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For Peugeot victory in Finland was a fantastic boost in morale and motivation. Now they hope to win as many of the remaining WRC events as possible. To catch up in championship positions seems nearly impossible with the current points scoring system, however there is no reason why the Peugeot 307 WRC should not continue showing its impressive performance. New for Rallye Deutschland will be that all three works 307 WRC will use the new 5-speed gearbox. The gearbox is supposed to make the 307 even faster, it ran reliably in Sebastian Lindholm’s car in Finland, yet reliability might still be a problem. The German stages have a very hard, abbrassive and often bumpy surface, which makes live difficult for transmissions.

Marcus Grönholm is certainly looking forward to the event: “We want to win Rallye Deutschland and we have a good chance. The mixture of stages in Saarland, vine yards and on Baumholder military tracks makes this rally very challenging. I hope on dry weather because then we can push a lot. If it rains on Rallye Deutschland the tracks will turn extremely slippery and dangerous. The rally is the first proper asphalt event of the season. I am anxious to see where we are compared to the opposition.”

In the past the Rallye Deutschland was a good event for Peugeot. The event has quite some history before it was elected to become part of the WRC. When Peugeot wrote rally history with the legendary Peugeot 205 T16, Rallye Deutschland did not stay a black mark on their map: In 1985 the event was won by Kalle Grundel and in 1986 by Michèle Mouton, both driving a 205 T16. In more recent years, since the event is a WRC scoring round, Peugeot always occupied 2 podium places: In 2002 we had Richard Burns 2nd and Marcus Grönholm 3rd. In 2003 it was Burns in 3rd while Grönholm only missed victory by less than 4 seconds!

For Marcus Grönholm this could be his first ever victory on asphalt. He will be supported by Freddy Loix and Cedric Robert. Freddy Loix will drive a non-nominated 3rd car. As the Peugeot press release reads: “With no obligation to ensure Manufacturers' points for the team, the Belgian will be free to attack as he sees fit.” Isn’t this another signal for the Belgian that he needs to show how good he is.

Cedric Robert in the 2nd nominated Peugeot seems a bit of a surprise. However he already has experience of the event. Last year he finished 9th overall in a privateer Peugeot 206 WRC, beating Gilles Panizzi on that occasion. Maybe more amazing even was his 11th place overall at Rallye Deutschland 2002 in an S1600 Peugeot 206 XS – the best overall result for an S1600 car until rule changes for 2004 meant reduced entry fields.

There are also a number of interesting Peugeot privateers. Nicolas Vouilloz to be honest still has to show if he can fulfill the expactations. So far he only started in Monte Carlo and Acropolis and both times he crashed out very early indeed.

Daniel Carlsson actually could show that he is more than a gravel specialist – although it appears that in future years the WRC might become more of a specialist affair. We haven’t seen much of Daniel on asphalt yet. But he did start Rallye Deutschland 2001, when it was a WRC test event, in a private Toyota Corolla WRC. And in that year, believe it or not, he actually managed a fastest stage time and was ahead of Francois Delecour and Marcus Grönholm in works machinery, until Daniel gave his Corolla a closer look at the vine yards at the end of day one.

And of course it will be interesting to see what reigning French Rally Champion Alex Bengué can do. It will be Alex’s first start outside France in a WRCar. Alex managed a 4th fastest time overall on the Tour de Corse 2003 and stayed ahead of Gilles Panizzi’s works car until Alex removed a wheel against a rock on his BSA tuned 206 WRC. In Deutschland he will be driving again a BSA tuned car, but it is actually the very car Gilles Panizzi used in Corsica 2003 and Marcus Grönholm took so close to victory in Deutschland a year ago. So Alex Bengué is another guy who could well surprise.