Burns: 'I'll admit I'm wrong if I don't win'

Richard Burns says that if he comes from third to take victory on the Acropolis Rally in tomorrow's third and final leg, he will admit he was wrong when he accused Colin McRae of gaining an unfair advantage by doing a similar thing in the Cyprus Rally two weeks ago

Burns: 'I'll admit I'm wrong if I don't win'

The English Subaru ace goes into Sunday's final seven stages just 14.8s behind rally-leader McRae's Ford, with McRae's team mate Carlos Sainz second overall, 9.8s behind the Scot. But Burns believes that with the Fords acting as 'road sweepers' on the rough Greek stages, he can make up deficit - and confirm his belief that such tactics unfairly penalise the rally leader on the WRC's roughest events.

"If I win tomorrow, then it proves my point from Cyprus," said Burns. "If I don't, then I was wrong.

"Colin's done good times and didn't lose that much to us in SS12 (a second time, and therefore less dirtier stage). The final stage was very fast and we pretty much got everything right. Colin and Carlos have both driven exceptionally well, but I think that I've got every chance of passing them tomorrow."

McRae and Sainz are both equally determined to win, although McRae appears considerably less bullish over his chances than Burns.

"If you'd offered me more of a lead, I'd have taken it, but this is what we've got, so we just have to work with it. It's going to be quicker being third or fourth on the road, even on repeated stages. It's going to be a hell of a fight."

Sainz added, "I'm not going to settle for just championship points," and denied he had deliberately jumped the start on the final stage in order to gain a time penalty and drop behind Burns.

"The start of the stage is on tarmac," he said. "I felt the car move and then stopped. I don't know if I jumped the start or not. I'd rather start where I am anyway. If I wanted to jump the start deliberately, I'd have made it obvious."

The event is now a battle between these three drivers. Fourth placed Petter Solberg in the second Subaru is 46 seconds behind Burns and unlikely to challenge unless there is drama at the head of the pack or if the stewards decide Sainz did jump the start of SS13 and impose a minute's penalty. The Norwegian punctured in the final stage, adding to his task.

Harri Rovanpera's Peugeot is fifth, but the Finn believes that Pirelli's tyres and not his Michelin rubber have a slight advantage on stages where the top layer of rocks has been cleared to reveal the hard undersurface.

Tommi Makinen, in sixth, complained of a lot of tyre wear on SS12 and also suffered with brake overheating when the cooling reservoir ran dry.

There is much at stake for all three drivers in the lead battle tomorrow.

A win for Burns would bring him right into the heart of the championship battle and within a couple of points of current series leader Makinen, who tonight is looking at just one point from a fairly lacklustre performance so far.

Victory for McRae would put him level with Sainz and Juha Kankkunen at the top of the all-time WRC win lis, while Sainz's target is not only to claim that 'best driver ever' tag for himself, but also to move into the lead of the 2001 championship and end the advantage held by Makinen since Monte Carlo's season-opener.

It's very much 'game on' in Greece...

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