Peugeot driver Marcus Gronholm has won the Cyprus Rally, round five of the World Rally Championship, sealing the first-ever victory for the all-new 307 WRC. His team mate Harri Rovanpera finished fifth. Marcus now leads the World Championship after a stunningly consistent drive through difficult conditions.
Marcus took the lead on stage four, and apart from a clutch problem on the afternoon of day one (which did not cost him any places) his Peugeot 307 WRC was totally reliable throughout the event. Cyprus is notorious for being one of the toughest rounds of the World Championship, with tight hairpin bends, rough rocks and temperatures in excess of 30 degrees centigrade. Despite these challenging conditions, neither Marcus nor his car missed a beat – winning by nearly a minute.
"It's been a fantastic rally for me, and of course it's a real privilege to take the first win with the 307," said Marcus Gronholm. "We've come close to winning before this year, but this time it was a rally where everything went right for us. The car has been generally reliable and we haven't made any mistakes. The whole team has worked very hard and everybody deserves this result. Now we are looking forward to Greece, where of course we will be trying to win again."
Estonian Markko Martin began the day in third overall in the sole-surviving Ford Focus and the Mexico Rally winner consolidated his position over the closing stages to take the final podium place behind Loeb, despite losing transmission oil on the 16th stage.
But then...the controversy!
Press release from the official WRC website, www.wrc.com
Peugeot excluded from Cyprus Rally result
Citroen’s Sebastien Loeb has been confirmed as the winner of the Cyprus Rally after the Peugeots of on-the-road winner Marcus Gronholm and fifth-placed Harri Rovanpera were excluded following further examination of the cars’ water pumps.
Both the French World Rally Championship teams’ results were declared provisional subject to further technical checks. Question marks were raised in the aftermath of the event when it was discovered that the water pumps in both the Peugeot 307 and Citroen Xsara differed, despite them both using the same XU7 engine. Teams are required by WRC regulations to use standard water pumps.
Citroen has subsequently been cleared of any technical infringement, but Peugeot was called to a further meeting of the event’s stewards today and has lost its manufacturers’ points after it was confirmed that its water pump did not conform to the rules.
An FIA statement said: “Further to a report from the FIA Technical Delegate regarding the water pumps in Marlboro Peugeot Total car No. 5 (Marcus Gronholm and Timo Rautiainen) and car No. 6 (Harri Rovanpera and Risto Pietilainen) and having considered the statements from the representatives of the competitor at a meeting held in the Paris headquarters of the FIA, the water pumps were not found to be in conformity with the Technical Regulations. The Stewards decided that Marlboro Peugeot Total car No. 5 and Marlboro Peugeot Total car No. 6 be excluded from the 2004 Cyprus Rally.”
Loeb now leads the WRC drivers’ championship with 35 points, while Ford’s Markko Martin is second with 34 points. Subaru’s Petter Solberg moves up to third with 28 points, just four points ahead of Gronholm in fourth. Ford continues to lead the manufacturers’ standings with 58 points from Citroen and Peugeot, while the French marques now have 54 and 33 points respectively and Subaru has 40.
So much for Peugeots first victory, must have been a big disappointment for the team!
I also hope Duval can do better than retiring as soon as the rally starts next time, best of luck to him!