Stohl grabs a point in Greece

Stohl grabs a point in GreeceFrom Citroen Press [ 03/06/2007 ].
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The OMV Kronos Citroen World Rally Team has scored WRC-points in the driver ranking for the seventh time in a row. In the manufacture ranking one even scored at all runs to the FIA World Rally Championship so far. The eighth place by Manfred Stohl and Ilka Minor at the “bp ultimate Rally of Greece” is nevertheless just a small compensation. Following fourth place in the FIA World Rally Championship 2007 one obviously had had high expectations for this year. Therefore the almost two months long summer break comes just at the right time for the 34-year-old Austrian.

 

One WRC-point saved
After Manfred Stohl had moved up from ninth to seventh overall place in the morning of the second day things started to go wrong. The OMV driver hit a stone, causing a puncture. Even though the changing of the tyre only took an almost record-breaking time of 2:40 minutes the OMV Kronos Citroen World Rally Team nevertheless dropped back to eighth place. He was too far behind privateer Jan Kopecky (CZ/Skoda Fabia WRC) to make this up during the almost 80 special stage kilometres on Sunday. The only consolation were one WRC-point for the driver WRC and two points for the FIA Manufacture World Rally Championship. Stohl: “Unfortunately we didn’t advance since Sardinia. The Xsara WRC is okay as far as the set-up goes but engine power is missing. That is not too much fun. I’m very grateful for the summer break where I can take a step back since my balance for the first halt of the year isn’t too positive.”

Tapping all potentials
Brigitte Mühlwisch, OMV Head of Corporate Sponsorship, also sees some good sides to the summer break: “We knew, of course, that we were facing a very difficult season following last year’s successes. We were nevertheless fully convinced of the Citroen-project. Unfortunately the overall package didn’t really fit for reasons we have not yet thoroughly analysed. Now we are facing a very work-intensive summer break in order to optimise our rally commitment once again and tap all potentials. We are not looking for a culprit but try to find solutions.” Which obviously also means the cooperation of Kronos Racing, the executive team of the OMV Kronos Citroen World Rally Team. Team Principal Marc Van Dalen says confidently: “We are convinced that Manfred and Ilka are one of the best rally teams in the world. Unfortunately not everything did go according to plan during the first half of the year. But we will do our all to get these two back again on the road to success.”

Grönholm celebrates third win this season
Marcus Grönholm (Fin/Ford Focus) has changed gears in the fight for the WRC crown. The two-times former World Champion celebrated his third victory this season in Greece and repeated last year’s win. Thereby he also expanded his lead in the WRC ranking on Sebastien Loeb (Fra/Citroen C4 WRC) to nine points at half-time. Loeb was behind right from the beginning in Greece and never posed a real threat to the Finn. Petter Solberg (Nor/Subaru Impreza WRC) came in third ahead of Ford works driver Mikko Hirvonen, who didn’t reach the podium for the first time this season.

Final standings after 21 special stages
01. Marcus Grönholm/Timo Rautiainen (Fin) Ford Focus WRC 3:49:22,6 hrs.
02. Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (F) Citroen C4 WRC +38,6 Sek.
03. Petter Solberg/Phil Mills (Nor) Subaru Impreza WRC +1:34,1 min.
04. Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen (Fin) Ford Focus WRC +2:41,3 min.
05. Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud (Nor) Ford Focus WRC +4:52,7 min.
06. Chris Atkinson/Stephane Prevot (Aus) Subaru Impreza WRC +6:31,7 min.
07. Jan Kopecky/Filip Schovanek (CZ) Skoda Fabia WRC +8:15,8 min.
08. Manfred Stohl/Ilka Minor (A) Citroen Xsara WRC +8:56,2 min.