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Rallye Monte Carlo 2003 - 24-26 January - http://www.acm.mc

In this issue:

- Special offer from FormulaFramed
- Monte Carlo photo link
- FIA press release
- Advertise on this newsletter
- Subscription details


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Photos from Rallye Monte Carlo (continuously added to):

FIA RALLY NEWS - http://www.fia.com

Friday, 24 January 2002

Reigning world champion Marcus Gronholm started the defence of his
driver?s title in fine style on today?s opening leg of Rallye Monte Carlo,
round one of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Gronholm and his co-driver Timo Rautiainen were never headed throughout
the opening loop of six stages in the mountains around Gap, north of the
rally?s Monaco base. Gronholm admitted he felt more at home running
studded tyres on the snow and ice, which littered the morning?s tests,
than using slick tyres in the afternoon.

Citroen?s Sebastien Loeb was clearly at home on the drier asphalt,
blasting his way up the leaderboard to end the day in second place, 20.6
seconds off the lead. Loeb was fastest on stage five and joint fastest
with his team-mate Colin McRae on the sixth.

McRae was third on his debut in the Xsara WRC, having held second earlier
in the leg.

The opening day of this year?s Rallye Monte Carlo went badly for the
Subaru team, when both cars retired on stage five. Petter Solberg had
shown well early on, holding second at lunchtime.

Technical: The three official Peugeot 206 WRCs ran without problems today.
Marcus Gronholm had a rear puncture on SS5.

Sporting: Marcus Gronholm put aside his dislike for the stages on Rallye
Monte Carlo to lead the rally from the start. Gronholm edged his way clear
on the opening test, but then stunned his rivals with an amazing time
through the second stage, beating everybody by 29.4 seconds.

Gronholm dropped time to Sebastien Loeb through the afternoon, but
continued to lead after the two longest stages of the rally: the 47.27km
Plan de Vitrolles-Faye stage, despite hitting a bridge and puncturing a
rear wheel on SS5.

Richard Burns was fourth overnight, not having felt entirely at home in
the car through the morning loop of stages. He was happier in the long
stages, which contained a good deal less snow and ice, than the first four

Gilles Panizzi had received a one-minute penalty before the start of the
rally, for failing to have the GPS system working properly on the recce.
The Frenchman struggled to get to grips with the slippery conditions. He
dropped time throughout the day and felt the car was set-up wrong for the
stages. He ended day one in 14th place.

Quotes: Marcus Gronholm said: ?I thought the damage on the rear wheel was
worse than it was. The car was jumping around quite a lot. I am reasonably
happy with the position. Maybe it won?t be great running 15th on the road
tomorrow, but then the guy who is second will be running 14th, so it?s not
so bad.?

Richard Burns said: ?It?s really hard to judge the speed on these stages,
it?s so easy to go too hard and go off the road. My plan was to be in the
top six tonight, so I?m happy to be where I am right now.?

Gilles Panizzi said: ?I have no feeling with the car, it?s not giving me
any feedback at all. I am not happy.?

Technical: All three Citroen Xsara WRCs ran without fault throughout the
opening leg of the event.

Sporting: Colin McRae led the initial charge for the French team, but he
was passed by team-mate Sebastien Loeb on the fourth stage. Loeb?s fastest
time on the following test cemented his second place behind Gronholm and
drew admiration from both McRae and Carlos Sainz. Despite his time in the
first run at the Plan de Vitrolles-Faye test, Loeb felt he could have gone
even faster. It was the first time he?d ever driven the stage. He spun on
the second run, dropping ten seconds while he turned the car around. McRae
admitted there was little he could have done top defend his place from
Loeb. The Scot had dropped time with a half spin on the fourth stage,
which he estimated had cost him 20 seconds. Carlos Sainz spun twice in SS3
and then went off the road for ten seconds in the fifth stage. All three
Citroens were in the top five, with Loeb second, McRae third and Sainz

Quotes: Sebastien Loeb said: ?I was surprised at my time in SS5. I hadn?t
driven at all well through there, it was so hard with the mud and then ice
and then dry asphalt. I got to the end of the stage and didn?t think it
was such a good time.

Colin McRae said: ?The car feels quite nervous over the bumps and these
stages are quite bumpy. I lost a lot of time with the spin because I
couldn?t get the car into reverse gear. It?s a bit disappointing after
things had gone well this morning.?

Carlos Sainz said: ?After going off the road and onto the grass, I feel
like I?ve been doing Paris-Dakar today. My tyre choice was wrong for the
final stage, I was on harder tyres than Colin and Sebastien.?

Technical: Markko Martin?s Focus RS WRC suffered a minor brake problem on
stages four and five today. Francois Duval?s car suffered suspension
damage after he hit a tree on SS4. Mikko Hirvonen?s car ran without fault.

Sporting: The first day of Rallye Monte Carlo was a learning experience
for all of the Ford drivers. Markko Martin was fastest Focus in sixth
place, despite spinning on the first and second run at the Selonnet stage.
He was running on a half-studded tyre for the first time and wasn?t sure
how hard he could push on them. His progress through SS5 was slowed when
he caught and passed Panizzi?s Peugeot. The Estonian felt his Focus?s
engine was down on power on the final stage of the day.

Duval was caught out by a muddy left-hand corner, four kilometres from the
end of SS4. He hit a tree and tore the right-rear wheel off his Focus, but
made it to service on time. Despite the best efforts of the Ford mechanics
the car was not straight for SS5, but he still made it to the end of the
day 10th overall. Mikko Hirvonen preferred the snow and ice of the morning
to the drier stages in the afternoon. He was 13th on his Monte debut.

Quotes: Markko Martin said: ?Spinning on this rally is nothing new. I?m
just trying to get as much experience as possible. It was quite
interesting when we came to try and pass Panizzi, we went off the road in
fifth gear to get by. The car has been perfect today.?

Francois Duval said: ?Hitting the tree in stage four hasn?t done my
confidence any good at all. Despite losing the wheel, we didn?t drop too
much time though. The geometry wasn?t right for SS5 and we had a few near
misses on the icy patches.?

Mikko Hirvonen said: ?It?s great fun. Obviously coming from Finland I like
the snow, it?s a shame there?s not more of it.?

Technical: Both Hyundais have suffered from a lack of pre-rally testing
and both suffered early brake trouble. Armin Schwarz and Freddy Loix said
the suspension was wrong on their cars. The team softened the anti-roll
bars on both cars at lunchtime.

Sporting: Schwarz was the fastest of the two Accents over the first day,
ending leg one in eighth place. The German spun on the second test, but
was happier on the second loop of stages, when the road was generally
dirtier. He also went off the road on a sixth-gear stretch of stage five.

Loix?s feelings on the car and conditions mirrored those of his team-mate.
The Belgian was 12th overnight, and said he?d been forced to use the
handbrake at times to get the car to turn in.

Quotes: Armin Schwarz said: ?Coming to this rally with the car set-up for
Sanremo Rally is not very good. It is too bumpy for the suspension, the
car is being thrown all over the place. The brakes were dragging this
morning, but changing the callipers sorted that problem out.?

Freddy Loix said: ?It hasn?t been much fun today. I really couldn?t get
the car turned in at all, which doesn?t give you much confidence. The team
has fitted new shock absorbers and I?m not sure if they?re working better
or not. All I can do is tell them team what I am feeling, I?ll do that and
see what we do tomorrow.?

Technical: Didier Auriol?s Octavia WRC ran without trouble until SS5 when
he felt there was a problem with the throttle response. Toni Gardemeister
retired on SS2 with an engine problem. The car had lapsed onto three
cylinders towards the end of the first stage.

Sporting: Auriol?s return to the FIA World Rally Championship was greeted
with a largely trouble-free day in his Octavia WRC. The Frenchman
struggled running further down on the road through the morning, with crews
ahead cutting the corners and dragging mud and stones out in to the road.
Auriol ended leg one in 11th overall.

Quotes: Didier Auriol said: ?It would have been very easy to go off the
road this morning. On some stages it looked like there was dry asphalt,
but then you go for the brake and find ice. I?m not sure what was causing
the problem with the throttle later in the day; I looked down at one point
and thought that maybe I had the handbrake on.?

Pavel Janeba said: ?It is very disappointing to lose Toni so early. Now we
have to have a look at the engine and see what caused the problem.?

Technical: Both Tommi Makinen and Petter Solberg went off the road on SS5
and retired.

Sporting: Solberg ran as high as second overall this morning, despite
coming close to tipping his Impreza WRC off the side of a bridge on the
fourth stage. He also collected a front puncture on that test. Solberg?s
rally ended 22km after the start of SS5. He hit some standing water in the
braking area and crashed into a bridge sustaining heavy frontal damage to
his car.

Makinen had suffered brake trouble on SS3, after hitting a rock and
splitting a brake pipe on the test. He drove out of SS3 using just the
handbrake to slow the car, dropping more than a minute to his rivals. He
and Kaj Lindstrom crimped the split pipe and topped the brake fluid up for
SS4, driving the test with three brakes. The problem was sorted in service
following, but the Finn went off the road eight kilometres after the
start. The Impreza was undamaged, but beached and unable to continue.

Quotes: Petter Solberg said: ?It?s sad, but sometimes that?s life. We were
really happy with the improvements we?d made to the car, but for SS5 we
took a tyre decision which had some risk attached. I turned right to cross
a bridge, but there was no grip. I hit the wall and damaged the radiator
which meant we had to stop.?

Tommi Makinen said: ?It would have been nice to have made the fifth win in
Monte Carlo, but it wasn?t to be. The new car was perfect, but where I
went off there was no chance for me to get back on the road.?

Other entries
Daniel Carlsson did a fine job to lead the opening round of this year?s
FIA Junior World Rally Championship at the end of day one. The Suzuki
driver?s day hadn?t been without incident. He suffered a puncture on the
third test, hit a telegraph pole on the next stage and then caught and
passed a Peugeot 206 WRC on the long stage.

Frenchman Bruce Tirabassi revelled in his switch to a Renault Clio for
this year, holding second after SS6. He admitted he was driving carefully
through the tricky opening leg, still uncertain of the handling of his new
car. Volkswagen Polo driver Kosti Katajamaki was third in the category.

Among the privateer World Rally Car entries, Cedric Robert and Roman
Kresta were giving some of the manufacturer drivers a run for their money.
Robert was up to seventh overall. The French driver had enjoyed Friday?s
action, his only problem coming on the fourth stage, where he felt his
tyres were losing some of their studs. Kresta was equally happy two places
further back.


STARTERS: 51 crews (all Group A) started this morning.

RETIREMENTS: Gardemeister (FIN), Makinen (FIN), Solberg (N) and four other


Friday 24 January

Leg 1 started from Tallard Aerodrome at 07h00 and covered 708.88km,
including 196.30km on six stages.


Saturday 25 January

Leg 2 starts from Monaco at 06h40 and covers 413.99km, including 114.52km
on four stages. The first car is expected to arrive in Monaco at 16h50.

Sunday 26 January

WEATHER FORECAST: Expected to remain cold and dry.


1 Gronholm (FIN) Peugeot 18m 07.6
2 Solberg (N) Subaru 18m 11.8
3 McRae (GB) Citroen 18m 15.9


1 Gronholm (FIN) Peugeot 16m 00.3
2 McRae (GB) Citroen 16m 29.7
3 Makinen (FIN) Subaru 16m 31.7


1 Gronholm (FIN) Peugeot 34m 07.9
2 McRae (GB) Citroen 34m 45.6
3 Solberg (N) Subaru 34m 48.8


1 Loeb (F) Citroen 17m 54.5
2 Solberg (N) Subaru 18m 01.1
3 McRae (GB) Citroen 18m 01.4


1 Gronholm (FIN) Peugeot 52m 16.4
2 McRae (GB) Citroen 52m 47.0
3 Solberg (N) Subaru 52m 49.9


1 Gronholm (FIN) Peugeot 15m 33.7
2 Solberg (N) Subaru 15m 46.6
3 Burns (GB) Peugeot 15m 47.9


1 Gronholm (FIN) Peugeot 1h 07m 50.1
2 Solberg (N) Subaru 1h 08m 36.5
3 Loeb (F) Citroen 1h 08m 45.7


1 Loeb (F) Citroen 28m 54.9
2 Sainz (E) Citroen 29m 12.6
3 Gronholm (FIN Peugeot 29m 13.2


1 Gronholm (FIN) Peugeot 1h 37m 03.3
2 Loeb (F) Citroen 1h 37m 40.6
3 McRae (GB) Citroen 1h 38m 36.6


1 McRae (GB) Citroen 30m 04.7
1=Loeb (F) Citroen 30m 04.7
3 Sainz (E) Citroen 30m 21.1
4 Gronholm (FIN) Peugeot 30m 21.4


1 Gronholm (FIN) Peugeot 2h 07m 24.7
2 Loeb (F) Citroen +20.6
3 McRae (GB) Citroen +1m16.6
4 Burns (GB) Peugeot +1m53.9
5 Sainz (E) Citroen +1m55.7
6 Martin (EE) Ford +2m30.7


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