Day 1: Gronholm leads; McRae crashes

Reigning world champion Marcus Gronholm leads Rally New Zealand after the opening day's stages, but Ford's Markko Martin is giving chase in the new Focus WRC 03. Scotland's Colin McRae, who was second in the title race going into the event, crashed into a bank and wrecked his Citroen's suspension on SS6

Day 1: Gronholm leads; McRae crashes

Gronholm notched up seven out of nine stage wins and a 38-second lead, although it was perhaps the fact this was achieved without a significantly favourable running position through the stages which make it all the more impressive, as Peugeot team-mate Richard Burns, who is fourth, admitted.

"Marcus has been incredibly impressive," he said. "In the morning when it was a bit dry he was certainly helped by road position, but not since then. That's mighty impressive."

Burns, who ran first on the road, had expected to be in the lower reaches of the top 10, but lies fourth just behind Subaru's Petter Solberg.

Markko Martin has been the revelation of the day, running second in the new Ford Focus WRC 03, but even he admits he could do little about Gronholm today. "It's been like a dream for me," said Markko. "But Marcus is in a race of his own again."

The disappointment of the day was Colin McRae, who crashed out of the event on SS6 in his Citroen Xsara.

"It's a bad finish to a bad day," said McRae. "We broke the suspension and broke the dampers and there was no way that we could do three more stages."

shares
comments
New Focus makes waves Down Under

Previous article

New Focus makes waves Down Under

Next article

Day 2: Gronholm on a roll

Day 2: Gronholm on a roll
Load comments
The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0 Plus

The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0

Two decades after Petter Solberg emerged as a World Rally Championship winner, his son Oliver is ready to take the WRC by storm. Having secured a part-time WRC factory drive for Hyundai in 2022, he's raring to repay the marque's faith in him and follow in his 2003 champion father's footsteps

WRC
Oct 14, 2021
Analysing the key moves in WRC’s 2022 silly season Plus

Analysing the key moves in WRC’s 2022 silly season

The World Rally Championship will step into a new hybrid era in 2022, but the car changes haven't been the only excitement that has built within the paddock. WRC's 'silly season' kicked off in a big way and all the key driver moves for 2022 - of which there are many - look set to shake things up

WRC
Oct 13, 2021
How joining Finland’s exclusive club was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age Plus

How joining Finland’s exclusive club was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age

By his own admission, the fifth World Rally Championship victory of Elfyn Evans' career in Finland last weekend was the drive of his life. Winning five stages in a row and soaking up huge pressure from the Hyundais on the fastest gravel stages around, the Welshman put in a faultless showing that proved what he is truly made of

WRC
Oct 4, 2021
Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant? Plus

Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant?

OPINION: Thierry Neuville's diatribe against the upcoming Rally1-spec machines that will usher in the World Rally Championship's new hybrid era was remarkable in an era where drivers are usually reticent to air their views in public. But are the Belgian's concerns about speed, safety and cost entirely valid?

WRC
Sep 16, 2021
How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains Plus

How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains

After Kalle Rovanpera’s historic feat at Rally Estonia, the Finn scaled new heights at the Rally of the Gods with a commanding victory. And this time Toyota’s young star demonstrated why the future is bright with his devastating speed and consistency at the Acropolis Rally

WRC
Sep 13, 2021
The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally Plus

The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally

Five drivers have won first time out at the Rally Acropolis, transcending the tough dirt and gravel Greek roads to cement a place in rallying folklore. Here are three of the first-time winners' tales

WRC
Sep 9, 2021
Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble Plus

Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble

From being considered a likely contender to drive the next-generation M-Sport Ford Puma in 2022, Teemu Suninen's abrupt exit has created plenty of questions. The Finn's bid to become his country's next World Rally Championship winner won't be furthered by being sidelined, but there may be reason behind the decision

WRC
Sep 2, 2021
Could Spa’s cameo offer the WRC a new avenue to exploit? Plus

Could Spa’s cameo offer the WRC a new avenue to exploit?

OPINION: The Ypres Rally featured a cameo from the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in its final stage, giving WRC teams the chance to experience its iconic corners in rallying machinery. It proved to be an engaging addition to the rally, and could perhaps serve as an example for other events to visit famous circuits

WRC
Aug 24, 2021