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Discussion Starter #1
The Rally of Sweden is underway!

Last year saw Marcus Gronholm win in the Peugeot 206 WRC, from Tommi Makinen in the Subaru and Richard Burns.

The rally covers 1981.68 Km, of which 1586.88 Km are liaison stages, and 394.80 Km of competitive racing over 19 special stages.

Rally Update: End of Stage Three Gronholm took the early lead in the new Peugeot 307, the perfect start to the rally in the new untried car. The 307 is a bigger car than last years 206, based on the 307 CC hard top convertible. Sebastian Loeb in the Citroen was second early, followed by Markko Martin in the Focus.

However, Gronholm's early success soon left him, and by Stage 3 he is languishing in 7th place overall. Markko Martin took out Stage 3 in convincing fashion, to be leading the rally, from Sebastian Loeb and Carlos Sainz, both in the Citroen Xsara, by 14 and 17 seconds respectively.

Notable Notes: Ford's second fastest driver is not Duval, but their snow specialist, Tuohino with co-driver Aho. Gronholm's Peugeot 307 is only just holding out last years smaller brother, the 206, driven by Carlsson. The other factory 307 of Loiz is back in tenth position. Solberg is currently the fastest Subaru in 4th position. The Hyundai Accents are in 12th and 13th position. The fastest Mistubishi is in 16th position (Panizzi).



Tuohino starring in 5th place with the Focus



Sohlberg (not Solberg from Peugeot) modifying his WRC 2004 Lancer

Raw facts and pictures from http://rally.racing-live.com/en/ - Visit them for Live Timing.

Cheers... Tim!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Ambrose - indeed he does, late night watching the rally! Thanks for the correction.

After Leg 1:
After the first five stages, Markko Martin leads the Rally of Sweden by a large 23 seconds. The other rally favorite, Sebastion Loeb in the Citroen Xsara, is second overall, and Petter Solberg in the Subaru is third, just over three seconds behind Loeb. Sainz in the other Citroen is in fourth.

Janna Tuohino is still rewarding Ford for nominating him as a points scoring drive, remaining in fifth place overall. Gronholm has started working his way back from a power steering failure that saw him drop off the lead early on, but it almost a full minute behind Markko Martin.

Markko Martin:
"I took care early this morning and just needed a couple of stages to settle into the rally," said the 28-year-old Estonian driver. "The Focus has been reliable all day. The only problem was a driver once when I stalled the engine at the start of the second stage but we didn't lose much time. The two Granberget stages were really good fun, in fact the whole day has been enjoyable. This morning we were the second car through the stage and there were no lines or ruts from other cars so I was able to play with the car a little and choose exactly the line that I wanted. To be first with a lead of more than 20sec is better than I expected."

Janne Tuohino:
"We made no mistakes although maybe we were too sideways in places on the second stage this morning," said Tuohino. "I drove at maximum speed but didn't take any risks. I call it safety speed and everything has gone normally. It's not a bad position to be the leading Finn on a winter rally. I will try to go a little faster tomorrow and brake a little less but I must be careful because the Focus has more potential than I know about."

Good luck to Markko Martin and the rest of the Ford Rallye Sport Team as the head into Leg 2 later today, with 8 stages separated evenly by 3 service areas.

Cheers... Tim
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Leg Two was a sour one for Ford.

Francois Duval left the road for a full 45 minutes, stuck in a ditch, dropping down to 46th position overall. Worse was to come when rally leader Martin drifted into a snowbank and tore a wheel from his Focus, pushing the driveshaft into the differential. He lost 5 minutes getting to the end of the stage, where the crew did a brilliant job repairing the car within the 20 minutes allocated.

Markko Martin:
"I leaned the car into a snowbank but hidden in it was a rock and the impact shattered the rear left suspension," said Märtin. "The car ended in the middle of the road with the rear wheel folded underneath but eventually we were able to finish the stage, although there was no drive on that side of the car because of the damage. It wasn't a particularly quick bend, maybe third gear, but we went into it slightly too fast. Leaning on snowbanks is part of the tactics on this rally but they're so soft because of the mild weather that the car doesn't bounce off them in the normal manner. You can't trust them."

Tuohino struggled to find a balance of pushing and being cautious, dropping from the third place he gained due to Markko's problems back to fourth, when Petter Solberg in the Subaru posted some quicker times.

Tuohino escaped several brushes with the snowbanks this morning. "I hit them on three separate occasions because I pushed too hard," said the 28-year-old Finn. "Twice we slid sideways into the banks and on the other occasion I went in forwards." But having been too aggressive, he ended the day annoyed with himself after being too cautious through the long 39.95km Vargäsen to lose third place. "I was far too careful and that was stupid. Then I stalled the engine twice in the final stage. Tomorrow I'm going to have to go as fast as I can, without taking too many risks, to try to regain third. The problem is that I'm not sure I can do that safely because I still don't know the car so well."

Still, the rally could have been worse. Mitsubishi spent much of the rally below 15th position, struggling with gearbox problems all rally long, until finally all of their cars retired.



Solhberg did his level best to take his Mitsubishi apart part by part, trialling a new ice cooled intercooler as well!

Sebastian Loeb (Citroen) now leads the rally from Marcus Gronholm in the Peugeot.

Cheers... Tim
 

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Zetec Is Better Than VTEC
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Go Markko!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Well the rally has be run and won by Sebastian Loeb, who stayed out of trouble all rally to win. While he required Markko Martin to crash out of the lead, he drove wisely and becomes the first non-Scandanavian driver to win the Swedish event.

Marcus Gronholm finished second in the Peugeot 307, and Petter Solberg in the Subaru rounded out the podium.

Snow specialist Janne Tuohino did Ford proud, finishing 4th overall in his first outing in the new WRC car. He valiantly fought off a chasing Carlos Sainz, before Sainz's Citroen showed hints of unreliability as it dropped oil pressure and a cylinder to end his chase. Tuohino's points are invaluable to Ford to stay with Citroen in the Constructors title.

Markko Martin finished seventh overall, despite losing a wheel on day two, matching and sometimes beating the pace of the leaders but running out of time to make up any more positions.

Sebastian Loeb leads the World Rally Championship - 2 wins from 2 starts. Top 6 drivers in championship are:
Loeb (Citroen) - 20 points
Gronholm (Peugeot) - 13 points
Martin (Ford) - 10 points
Solberg (Subaru) - 8 points
Duval (Ford) - 6 points
Tuohino (Ford) - 5 points


Citroen take a narrow lead in the Constructors Championship.
Citroen - 24 points
Ford - 22 points
Peugeot - 17
Subaru - 10
Mitsubishi - 3



Next battle is the Rally of Mexico, March 12-14. See you there!

Cheers... Tim
 

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Zetec Is Better Than VTEC
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Unfortunatly for Markko there was that rock in the snowbank otherwise i belive he would of riped Loeb and won the rally.
Ah well i'm sure Markko will have a good run at Mexico.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks...

I think the best thing we can take away from this rally is that the car was both quick and reliable... the only link in the chain that let us down were our drivers.

Even Citroen, which had looked bullet proof, suffered with reliability, as did Peugeot. And reliability is only a word in the dictionary for poor Mitsubishi. So hopefully in the longer harder rallies, this will aid our cause! :)

Cheers.. Tim
 

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True, but to crash while at the pointy end of the rally is part of the game really given how hard they are pushing, and it sounds like Martin's crash was plain bad luck rather than driver error.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Well, it depends how you view it, I guess. Leaning on snowbanks is always a risky game, and a number of competitors went thru that stage before he did. Yes, he was unlucky, but it was a product of the style of his driving.

And it is part of the game, I agree. That's rallying - you take calculated risks in every corner. Martin, in this case, took the risks involved and paid the price.

Unfortunately!

Cheers... Tim
 

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Ok, I was only basing it on Markko's quote above. I'll have to make sure I watch/tape it when Ch10 show it. (not like the Monte though, forgot! Doh!)
 
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