Colin and Richard at odds over tactics

Cyprus Rally winner Colin McRae and runner-up Richard Burns have openly disagreed on how much the Scot gained from his tactic of deliberately not leading the event going into its final leg

Colin and Richard at odds over tactics

Overnight leader Burns started first on the road for the third and final leg, with McRae content to run as the second man through the rough, stone-strewn Cypriot stages. But whereas Burns says his 'road-sweeping' was key to McRae's victory, allowing him to run faster on pre-cleaned stages, the Ford ace says he would have beaten the Subaru team-leader even from the top starting slot.

At the official post-rally press conference, the pair were in open disagreement over the validity of a tactic which is almost certain to come into play again at the WRC's next event, the Acropolis Rally in two weeks.

"There's not much difference between car one and car two on the road," said McRae. "But it's always nicer when the gaps are small to be the one coming from behind."

Burns disagreed, saying that under normal circumstances, "I don't think that there's a single stage in the entire world championship where Colin would say he could take a second per kilometre off me, like he did on the third stage today (Sunday), in a straight fight."

McRae's reply to the question of whether he would have won starting first was succinct, and will quite possibly add to any psychological needlematch developing between the two British stars.

"Yes."

Burns called for a solution that would not make leading a rally at the end of a leg a hindrance rather than a help.

"This is a boring subject for the media and believe me it's a lot more boring for us," he said. "I don't want to sound negative about it - I just hope something's done soon."

One suggestion is to bring in the system used successfully on Rally Australia prior to 2000. The Perth-based event allowed the top 10 crews to choose their starting position within the top 10, starting with the rally leader. That was done in order to minimise the effect on the overall result of the early seeds acting as road-sweepers for the ball bearing top coat found on the Western Australian forest stages.

Sources suggest that after a year without that procedure in place, Rally Australia will return to it for the 2001 event. Whether it is introduced across the board remains to be seen.

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