C.E. - The Free Weekly Online Car Magazine


May 7-9
Click here for Murph's preview.

Last weekend (Sun 9 May) saw the dawn of a new era in World Championship Rallying. The impact of television played its part in changing the face of the sport and challenging the F1 circus for audience popularity. The name of the event changed also to the Rally of France, which was appropriate as French WRC contenders Peugeot debuted their new 206 WRC. It was an event that would bring a second consecutive win to another French team, Citroen, in as many weeks.
From the start the weather was warm and sunny. This would be to the advantage of the two-wheel drive F2 Kit cars and Citroen in particular. By SS2 Delecour was already in the lead with the new 206 WRC. Philippe Bugalski put on a determined effort in his Citroen, attacking hard over the twisty abrasive island roads, which ensured he was at the top of the leaderboard by the end of day one. Meanwhile back in fifth Colin McRae in the Martini Focus WRC was having a steady drive.

Saturday's weather forecast was for a cloudy day with some rain. The four-wheel drive teams must have been praying for it. It was not to happen, well in the quantities they were praying for anyway! Bugalski started as he had finished on the first day, in the lead, after the first two stages of the morning. McRae was the quickest WRC car but was being hunted down by Delecour and Sainz in his Toyota Corolla WRC. Auriol in the second Corolla was now
McRae drove superbly proving the Focus to be one of the quickest WRC cars on tarmac Photograph provided by Ford
starting to climb up the leaderboard. By SS10 the Kit Cars of Bugalski and Puras were opening up a lead. It was now becoming a two race event, Kit Cars versus the WRC machinery. Delecour's progress was to be hindered at this point by differential problems.

During the last two stages on Saturday a little rain fell - answered prayers? It made no difference to the charging Bugalski who set the fastest times on both tests. McRae took advantage of the conditions however, closing to within three seconds of Sainz in third place. By the end of the day's action Auriol had moved into the points in fifth place while Richard Burns moved his Subaru Impreza into sixth slot.

Sunday and a new day dawned for World Rallying. This was the day that would see championship points being awarded to the fastest person through the live televised final 9 mile stage. The days stages had already been run on the opening day so the crews were familiar with the roads. Bugalski proved this by significantly improving his times over those set by him on Friday. It started out a good day for McRae in the Focus. By the time he reached the final televised stage he had moved up to third position 2 tenths of a second ahead of Sainz. It was going to be a close finish, but McRae's confidence was high despite having difficulty keeping his Focus in gear. This was to be his undoing during the sprint through the stage. The car jumped out of gear causing it to slide. The corrective action was enough to drop the Focus driver back to fourth overall but more importantly, it denied him any points available for the fastest stage time.

Sainz and the Toyota team upheld their strong performance again
Delecour's fine run also came to an end on the final stage; the 206 WRC coming to a halt with electrical problems. Auriol took the three championship points for the fastest time followed by Makinen taking two points and the remaining point going to Sainz for third fastest.

Bugalski may have emerged the winner but many questions hang over F2 Kit Cars competing with WRC machines and the impact on the sport of the controversial points scoring for the live televised stages. Makinen now leads the championship by one point from Auriol, with McRae in third, six points off the lead. The WRC teams may now look forward to the Rally of Argentina on May 23rd and the absence of the F2 cars!

Report by Murph - (Email) Click here to view the championship standings to date.
Race No.
1 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Tommi Makinen / Risto Mannisenmaki Marlboro Mitsubishi Ralliart
2 Mitsubishi Carisma GT Freddy Loix / Sven Smeets Marlboro Mitsubishi Ralliart
3 Toyota Corolla WRC Carlos Sainz / Luis Moya Toyota Castrol Team
4 Toyota Corolla WRC Didier Auriol / Denis Giraudet Toyota Castrol Team
5 Subaru Impreza WRC Richard Burns / Robert Reid Subaru World Rally Team
6 Subaru Impreza WRC Bruno Thiry / Stephane Prevot Subaru World Rally Team
7 Ford Focus WRC Colin McRae / Nicky Grist Ford Motor Co Ltd
8 Ford Focus WRC Simon Jean-Joseph / Fred Gallagher Ford Motor Co Ltd
9 Seat WRC Harri Rovanpera / Risto Pietilainen Seat Sport
10 Seat WRC Piero Liatti / Carlo Cassina Seat WRC
11 Skoda Octavia WRC Armin Schwarz / Manfred Hiemer Skoda Motorsport
12 Skoda Octavia WRC Pavel Sibera / Petr Gross Skoda Motorsport
14 Peugeot 206 WRC Francois Delecour / Daniel Grataloup Peugeot Esso
15 Peugeot 206 WRC Gilles Panizzi / Herve Panizzi Peugeot Esso
16 Citroen Xsara Kit Car Philippe Bugalski / Jean Paul Chiaroni Automobiles Citroen
17 Citroen Xsara Kit Car Jesus Puras / Marc Marti Automobiles Citroen
18 Subaru Impreza WRC Luis Climent / Alex Romani Alex Romani
19 Toyota Corolla WRC Abdullah Bakhashab / Michael Park Toyota Team Saudi Arabia
20 Toyota Corolla WRC Henrik Lundgaard / Freddy Pedersen Henrik Lundgaard
26 Toyota Corolla WRC Isolde Holderied / Catherine Francois Toyota Castrol Team Deutschland

1 Philippe Bugalski / Jean Paul Chiaroni Citroen Xsara Kit Car
2 Jesus Puras / Marc Marti Citroen Xsara Kit Car
3 Carlos Sainz / Luis Moya Toyota Corolla WRC
4 Colin McRae / Nicky Grist Ford Focus WRC
5 Didier Auriol / Denis Giraudet Toyota Corolla WRC
6 Tommi Mäkinen / Risto Mannisenmaki Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 5
Catalunya Rally Argentina Rally

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

Designed & maintained by caint.com