Ford Martini secures second in world series
Carlos Sainz and Luis Moya finished fourth on the Rally of Great Britain
today to secure second place for their Ford Martini team in the FIA World
The result also sealed third for the Spanish duo in the
drivers' championship, won today for the first time by Finland's Marcus
Sainz completed the final leg of the gruelling four-day rally, 14th and
final round of the series, without difficulty in his Ford Focus World Rally
Car. Lying third overnight, the 38-year-old Madrid-based driver was engaged
in a fierce battle with outgoing world champion Tommi Mäkinen for the final
podium place. They started the final 28.13km Margam test split by just
1.2sec but it was Mäkinen who came out on top.
Torrential overnight rain and gale force winds only added to the water and
mud lying in wait on the already rain-soaked gravel tracks in the Welsh
forests. Treacherously slippery conditions have been the hallmark of this
1509km event and virtually every top driver endured at least one off-road
Sainz's consistency and the reliability of his Focus during the championship
season have earned the impressive record of completing more than 90 per cent
of the year's total competitive distance, more than any other driver. He
has finished 11 of the 14 rounds.
"This has been a very difficult rally for everyone because of the slippery
conditions," said Sainz. "All the way through there has been a fine balance
between driving quickly enough to set good times and driving too quickly and
sliding off the road. Many have gone beyond that fine line."
Ford Martini team director Malcolm Wilson said: "After we lost any chance of
winning the titles in Australia, it was important we fought hard here to
take second in the manufacturers' series. Both Carlos and Colin McRae did
just that. We have a good platform on which to build in 2001 and we are
excited about some of the improvements to the Focus which are planned."
Although the championship is over, there is little respite for Sainz and
Ford Martini team-mates Colin McRae and Nicky Grist. They begin testing for
the 2001 campaign in two day's time!
Tapio Laukkanen's rally ended on the penultimate Trawscoed stage when the
Finn and co-driver Kaj Lindström slipped off the road into retirement just
1km after the start of the 26.26km test. Their Focus slid off on the
outside of a left-hand bend, wedging itself in a ditch and with no
spectators about in that remote part of the forest they could not regain the
British television presenter Penny Mallory and Sue Mee won the ladies'
category in their Focus World Rally Car, despite sliding off the road in
Trawscoed. They finished 34th overall.
"I've waited for this moment for many years," said 34-year-old Mallory.
"I've tried to win the ladies category four times before and not managed it.
It's such a relief to achieve it at last and I feel quite emotional."
News from our Rivals
Richard Burns (Subaru) extended his overnight lead to win the rally for the
third consecutive year but second place for Marcus Grönholm (Peugeot) was
sufficient for him to secure the drivers' world title. His team clinched
the manufacturers' title on the previous round in Australia. Behind Sainz,
Juha Kankkunen (Subaru) and Francois Delecour (Peugeot) took the final
drivers' points, the two swapping places on the final stage. Didier Auriol
and Harri Rovanperä each finished in the top 10 on the team's final world
championship rally. The only major retirement today was Petter Solberg
(Subaru) who hit a tree in the penultimate stage and his car refused to
re-start after the subsequent engine fire.