C.E. - The Free Weekly Online Car Magazine
Contents

1999 Network Q Rally of Great Britain

November 21 - 23

Rally report by Shane O' Donoghue

The 1999 Network Q Rally of Great Britain (what a mouthful!) began as usual with the spectator-biased, side-by-side section held in Silverstone. Day one rarely contributes significantly to the result of the rally, but always draws the crowds. Who can resist the lure of the likes of Colin McRae and Richard Burns fighting head-to-head, side-by-side in some of the best racing there is. Other venues were just as thronged with fans.

Burns drove like a champion while others made the mistakes.

There is very little difference in power and torque between the top contenders. The speed differential is a combination of different chassis/gearbox settings and of course the driver. Arguably, the driver is more important in World Rally than in Formula One. I'm sure someone will disagree though..... Anyway, this was borne out by the running order after day one. The favourite, Richard Burns was only in fourth place, with his teammate, Juha Kankkunen leading the pack, his smooth style rewarded in the quick first seven stages. However, only 8 seconds separated the Subarus. With two days of hard, muddy forest rallying to go, this was not taken as an indication of things to come.

As predicted, Richard Burns took the horses by the reigns on day two. The 300 or so horses in question were powering the very impressive Subaru Impreza WRC. Subaru have had an unusual year, with two 1-2s and points in every rally except the Safari, yet not matching Toyota for consistency and hence losing out in the constructors' championship. Burns set fastest stage times in the first three of the second day, with Kankkunen close behind. The surprise of the rally may well have been the Peugeots of Francois Delecour and Gronholm. The latter pulled out fastest time on SS11. Burns was not perturbed though. It seemed as if each of the top drivers had a go at the Briton though, with Sainz, Makinen and McRae all setting top three stage times throughout the day. The Subarus had a significant edge though.

Delecour relished in the Peugeot 206's speed and agility.

A significant chunk of this advantage is thought to have been due to the grippy Pirelli tyres. SEAT benefitted from this increased grip also. Harri Rovanpera was lying fifth by the end of the very tough day two, ahead of luckless Makinen - this year's champion. Tommi had put himself out of contention as he slid wide on a tight left hander, breaking the right rear damper in the process. Unfortunately for the Mitsubishi crew, there was no service for two more stages and he limped on, losing a significant amount of time.

The champion then showed why he is by powering to fifth place by the overnight stop. Behind him was the SEAT of Gwyndaf Evans. The Toyotas were having a dismal final rally, with Auriol and Sainz both sliding off the road. Auriol managed seventh while the Spaniard languished in sixteenth by the end of the day. Bruno Thiry, in the (as yet) uncompetitive Skoda Octavia WRC was up in tenth place, looking strong. McRae was out again, after another nasty crash - NIcky Grist (his co-driver) has a job I certainly do not envy - he deserves every penny he is given!

Cold, yucky and foggy conditions greeted the crews (and spectators) on the final morning as they headed into south Wales. Crowd turnout was amazing, with the roads blocked for miles, and the stages lined from the early hours - our photographers Anthony Hunter and Mark Sims were on some stages as early as 2:00 am. Mad men. I can say though that I think it was worth it! Insert applause


The concluding seven special stages and 120 competitive miles saw an amazing rate of attrition with seven works crews retiring. On a charge, Didier Auriol overhauled Welshman Gwyndaf Evans in the opening section, moving into sixth position and extending their lead over the local hero in the following section. Benefitting from Makinen’s puncture in stage 18 and Gronholm’s accident (and ultimate retirement), Didier moved up to fourth position with only three stages remaining. However, in the penultimate section, he slid wide, hit some rocks that broke the front right wheel and damaged the radiator. Despite the service crew's best efforts to facilitate repairs on the road section, they simply ran out of time before starting the final stage of the rally.


Makinen's run of bad luck on British soil continues.

Peugeot received no reward for their brilliant run, as Delecour retired with gearbox troubles and Gronholm (surprised by his own speed!) crashed. Rovanpera finished in third, behind the powerful Subaru duo of Burns and Kankkunen. Thiry was delighted (as were Skoda) with an impressive fourth place for the Octavia. Mitsubishi's booby prize was Freddy Loix's fifth place, followed by Thomas Radstrom in the Ford Focus.

So that is the end of the 1999 FIA World Rally Championship! What a season it has been. Thanks in particular (in no order!) to Neil Blackbourn, Mark Sims, Anthony Hunter, Jakob Ebrey, Kelvin Fagan, Murph for your contributions - I hope to work with you all again in 2000.

Shane O' Donoghue

Picture gallery from the 1999 Network Q Rally of Great Britain

Click for larger image.
Click for larger image.
Click for larger image.
Click for larger image.
Click for larger image.
Click for larger image.
Click for larger image.
Click for larger image.
Click for larger image.
Click for larger image.
Click for larger image.
Click for larger image.
Click for larger image.
Click for larger image.
Click for larger image.
Click for larger image.
Click for larger image.
Click for larger image.
Click for larger image.
Click for larger image.
Click for larger image.
Click for larger image.
Click for larger image.
Click for larger image.

Click here to view the championship standings to date.
GREAT BRITAIN RESULTS
Position
Driver/Co-driver
Car
1 Richard Burns / Robert Reid Subaru Impreza WRC 99
2 Juha Kankkunen / Juha Repo Subaru Impreza WRC 99
3 Harri Rovanpera / Risto Pietilainen Seat Cordoba WRC E2
4 Bruno Thiry / Stephane Prevot Skoda Octavia WRC
5 Freddy Loix / Sven Smeets Mitsubishi Carisma GT
6 Thomas Radström / Gunnar Barth Ford Focus WRC
Rally Australia

[This Week] [Full Contents] [News] [Features] [Car of The Week] [Motorsport] [A-Z]

Designed & hosted by caint.com