Maximum Points From Corsica

From Chris Biewer [ 22/10/2001 ].
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The Peugeot team duly delivered on this year’s Tour de Corse. The event was won by the sister team Citroen, their first victory with a WRCar, but the main target for Peugeot was to bag a maximum 16 points and for that the Citroen didn’t matter. Just to quiten possible criticism, it happened to Peugeot before when Harri Rovanperä won the Rally Sweden outright but wasn’t eligible for points, just as the Citroen now.

However, the last day in Corsica wasn’t that easy – Corsica never is! When on the first stage of the day Gilles Panizzi managed to reduce the gap to Puras to 17.7sec, it looked for a moment as if Gilles and Peugeot could fight for the outright win again. However on the next stage Gilles cooked his brakes and it started to rain soon after, badly enough to have standing water in many places as well as constantly changing road conditions and grip levels.

Gilles soon admitted that in these circumstances it just wasn’t worth taking the risks: “The conditions were very bad in some places – very unpredictable – and it would have been stupid of me to put the car in the trees when we were in such good position for Peugeot. Of course I would have liked to have won, but it’s good that Peugeot has taken the maximum points from this rally and that none of our cars had any technical problems either. We’ve been reliable and fast and that will give the team confidence for the remaining rallies.”

As well Didier Auriol was overjoyed with his performance and his podium finish: “On leg2 I lost touch to my team mate Gilles when it started to rain in exact that moment when I was on the startline. I lost 20 seconds on that stage. On the 3rd and last leg all I had to do was to save this result for Peugeot.”

While Peugeot achived their target to gain the maximum 16 points in Corsica, the 2 teams ahead in the manufacturer WRC standings, Ford and Mitsubishi, both failed to score any points at all. As a result of that Peugeot now moved into 2nd in the manufacturer WRChampionship and is only 7 points down on leader Ford with a possible 32 to gain on the last 2 events. This looks again like an amazing show down as Peugeot managed already last year. Of course, don’t underestimate Ford with Carlos Sainz and Colin Mc Rae in Austrailia (1-4 November) and Great Britain (22-25 November), especially in the Rally GB the last time a non-Brit has won was 8 years ago(!) and Colin would be a top favourite there. The nominated crews for Peugeot on those 2 events are Marcus Grönholm and Harri Rovanperä. Marcus has won Australia last year and was 2nd in GB while Harri has a splendit record on both these events as well!

Peugeot Sport director Corrado Provera sums it up like this: “The Championship is now wide open and we are looking forward to the fight!”