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1999 RALLY OF PORTUGAL

March 21-24
The Ford WRC team has now, without a shadow of a doubt, established itself as a contender for the 1999 championship. Of course, everybody knew that they would eventually be competitive, what with Colin McRae on board, Ford money and a brand-new car and engine package. However, not even Ford could have predicted just how quickly success would have come. The Focus was swift in the first 2 rounds, but finally proved itself in Kenya with a fantastic victory over the opposition - who must by now be quaking with fear at the apparent speed and reliability of this still-new car. Colin McRae and Nicky Grist must be ecstatic - now that the (apparently overweight) Focus has shown its tarmac capabilities in Portugal. Remember that most of the championship is on tarmac.
Colin McRae driving his Ford Focus through the famous Arganil stage. Photo: Ralph Hardwick Photograph provided by Ford
From the very beginning of the rally to the end, McRae lead the way. Until the final day, the Focus' speed was unchallenged - Colin setting fastest lap on six of the first day's stages. The only threat came from the impressive Toyotas of Didier Auriol and Carlos Sainz. On the second day of the rally, the Toyota team members traded fastest times while McRae took it relatively easy. Makinen made a charge on day 3 with three of the four quickest stage times in his pocket. Nobody could catch McRae though. He finished 13 seconds ahead of Sainz, even though the lead was over 1 minute 20 seconds. There was not a problem with the Ford - they had it all under control.
Burns managed a brilliant 4th place Photograph provided by Prodrive
So much so that there are rumours that the Focus is using nitrous oxide to boost power... However, that is one rumour that I refuse to believe. I think that Mountune (the company responsible for the engine design) has done a fantastic job - getting the engine right first time. I hope to be proved correct this Thursday (April 1st) when the FIA carry out a very detailed scrutiny of McRae's engine.
Bizarrely, the F2 class and the WRC are linked by the victorious teams in Portugal; Alister McRae, Colin's brother won the F2 honours in Portugal, as predicted by Hyundai last week. The engine is the Hyundai Coupe is, in fact developed by Mountune! Not a bad few days rallying for them - keep an eye out for the name in the future.

Following Alister McRae home was his teammate Kenneth Eriksson - giving Hyundai their dream anniversary present. I would expect to see this kind of performance from them for the rest of the season, preceding Hyundai's foray into WRC rallying next year - guess who will be responsible for the engine......



Click here to view the championship standings to date.
PORTUGAL ENTRYLIST
Race No.
Car
Driver/Co-driver
Team
1 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Tommi Makinen / Risto Mannisenmaki Marlboro Mitsubishi Ralliart
2 Mitsubishi Carisma GT Marcus Gronholm / Timo Rautiainen 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 Juha Kankkunen / Juha Repo Subaru World Rally Team
7 Ford Focus WRC Colin McRae / Nicky Grist Ford Motor Co Ltd
8 Ford Focus WRC Peter Solberg / Philip Mills 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 Emil Triner / Milos Hulka Skoda Motorsport
14 Subaru Impreza WRC 1999 Bruno Thiry / Stephane Prevot Subaru World Rally Team
15 Subaru Impreza Rui Madeira / Nuno da Silva Procar
16 Subaru Impreza WRC 1998 Krzysztof Holowczyc / Jean-Marc Fortin Turning Point Rally Team
17 Ford Escort WRC Markko Märtin / Toomas Kitsing Markko Märtin
18 Toyota Corolla WRC Pasi Hagström / Tero Gardemeister Pasi Hagström
19 Toyota Corolla WRC Pedro Matos / Chaves Parva Telecel Castrol Team
20 Toyota Corolla WRC Aris Vovos / John Alvanos Toyota Hellas
24 Toyota Corolla WRC Abdullah Bakhashab / Michael Park Toyota Team Saudi Arabia
25 Toyota Corolla WRC Volkan Isik / Erkan Bodur Toyota Mobil Team Turkey
27 Toyota Corolla WRC Matthias Kahle / Dieter Schneppenheim Toyota Castrol Team Deutschland
29 Hyundai Coupe Evo II Kenneth Eriksson / Staffan Parmander Hyundai Motor Sport
31 Hyundai Coupe Evo II Alister McRae / David Senior Hyundai Motor Sport

PORTUGAL RESULTS
Position
Driver/Co-driver
Car
1 Colin McRae / Nicky Grist Ford Focus WRC
2 C Sainz / L Moya Toyota Corolla WRC
3 Didier Auriol / Denis Giraudet Toyota Corolla WRC
4 Richard Burns / Robert Reid Subaru Impreza WRC 1999
5 Tommi Makinen / Risto Mannisenmaki Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
6 Bruno Thiry / Stephane Prevot Subaru Impreza WRC 1999
Safari Rally Catalunya Rally

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