Burns out for revenge

Richard Burns has some unfinished business to attend to in Argentina this week. A year ago he went into the final stage of the rally with a narrow lead over Subaru team-mate Juha Kankkunen, but believed that he was safe as the Finn had allegedly agreed not to pressurise the Englishman.

Burns out for revenge

Instead Kankkunen stole the win on the final stage, Subaru let the result stand and Burns flew home a very bitter man, but the pair have patched up their differences.

Nevertheless, Burns won't be signing up to any agreements between himself and Kankkunen this time as he chases a third victory to extend his lead at the head of the points table and underline his credibility as this year's title favourite.

Kankkunen will most likely be Burns' closest rival this week as the Subaru/Pirelli combination is, on paper at least, the ideal mix. However quadruple champion Tommi Makinen will push hard to get his championship bid back on track. The Finn has had further surgery on his troublesome sinuses and says he's in far better physical shape than for some time.

Argentina has not been one of Colin McRae's better hunting grounds. Hefty rocks that line the edges of the road are notoriously unforgiving and lie in wait for anyone not keeping a tidy line. McRae has fallen victim to them both at Subaru and, last year, at Ford, as his spectacular driving style took him over the fine line between speed and safety.

"It's too easy to get greedy," says Subaru technical director David Lapworth. "Argentina is a fast event, but you have to treat it with a lot of respect."

Recent heavy rain is likely to make it a tricky event, especially as teams have had their test sessions badly hit by bad weather. Much will depend on what can be learned from a short pre-event session this week once the circus hits Cordoba.

Subaru, Mitsubishi and Ford should be confident of a decent result, but Peugeot, SEAT and Hyundai are more of a gamble. Peugeot is one of the few teams with experience of the original Argentina rallies, while SEAT is still on a tricky learning curve with its sometimes-troublesome Cordoba. How nice if it should perform at its best in the town where it gained its name.

Hyundai is in Argentina to learn about the Accent WRC, having only been there before with the two-wheel drive Coupe, while Skoda is staying away, preferring instead to concentrate on testing the Octavia for next month's Acropolis Rally in Greece.

The rally begins on Thursday evening with a pair of superspecials at the holiday resort of Villa Carlos Paz before Friday, Saturday and Sunday has action on the varying surfaces of the Pampas roads. The event culminates on Sunday afternoon with the awesome El Condor stage that has seen the downfall of many drivers in the past. Only when that test has been successfully completed can any of this week's hopefuls start to think about the champagne celebrations.

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