C.E. - The Free Weekly Online Car Magazine


September 16 - 19

Didier Auriol, Denis Giraudet and the Toyota Castrol Team made history by winning the first FIA World Rally Championship event in China. The French crew totally dominated the third and final leg, setting fastest times in five of the six stages to take victory by nearly a minute over Subaru's Richard Burns. Toyota team-mates Carlos Sainz and Luis Moya finished on the podium in third position.

At a crucial time in the season, Didier's maximum ten points take him to joint top of the leaderboard in the Drivers' Championship. Sharing the number one position with Tommi Makinen, the rivals head to San Remo with everything to play for. Carlos Sainz retains his third position in the championship, while Toyota sprint into the distance with the manufacturers' title.

Didier commented on the last day: "We chose Michelin's narrow motocross tyre this morning and it worked really well in the incredibly slippery conditions. Honestly, it is difficult to describe just how slippery it has been on the stages, and in fact stage 20 was probably harder this afternoon even though it was not raining. I am obviously delighted with the result; we knew when we came here that it would be rough, important to keep out of trouble and not make any mistakes. We are now equal on points with Tommi and for the three remaining events I think we will be very evenly matched."

Auriol won his first ever China Rally

Carlos Sainz and Luis Moya held a comfortable third position going into the final day's racing. With nearly three minutes in hand to fourth-placed Juha Kankkunen, the Spaniards decided to settle for third rather than risk losing it all in the treacherous conditions. Running without incident until SS20, Sainz was then forced to switch from the electronic gear-shift to the manual system. However, it made little difference to the overall result and they cruised to their seventh podium finish of the year.

Doubts arise now about who Sainz will drive for on 2000. Toyota have not yet confirmed their place in the championship. It is known that Ford would love to have the Spaniard to accompany Colin McRae in the Focus, however, SEAT are also on the look out for a top driver.

These conditions didn't stop the fine performance from the F2 Hyundai Coupes

The final day of the 1999 555 China Rally marked a momentous achievement for the Hyundai World Rally Team, for three reasons. Firstly, it saw the team score its third one/two victory of the year in the FIA 2-litre World Cup for Manufacturers. Secondly, it marks the first time the team has scored a top ten overall position. Thirdly, Hyundai won the 2-litre manufacturers class of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship and the drivers' championship.

The rally got off to a torrid start, as a solid 24 hours of rain from Typhoon Sam fell on the area surrounding the stages. This caused the organisers to cancel the ceremonial start and two of the first day's stages, as the clay-based roads became impassable. The stages themselves also proved harsher than anticipated, with many drivers describing them as rougher even than those on the Acropolis Rally, earlier this year.

Hyundai's year 2000 WRC car was revealed in this week's news.

Click here to view the championship standings to date.
1 Didier Auriol / Denis Giraudet Toyota Corolla WRC
2 Richards Burns / Robert Reid Subaru Impreza WRC 99
3 Carlos Sainz / Luis Moya Toyota Corolla WRC
4 Juha Kankkunen / Juha Repo Subaru Impreza WRC 99
5 Harri Rovapera / Risto Pietilainen SEAT WRC
6 Volkan Isik / Erkan Bodur Toyota Corolla WRC
Finland Rally San Remo Rally

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