Final round-up: Finn one-two, or is it?

Tommi Makinen produced a dominant performance to win the Safari Rally and take a 10-point lead in the World Rally Championship after leading from almost the very start of a drama-filled event in Africa

Final round-up: Finn one-two, or is it?

The Mitsubishi ace's rivals were decimated by mechanical problems, on the first two legs leaving Makinen to cruise home, as much as negotiating the Kenyan stages can be called a cruise. The Finn still needed a slice of good fortune, however, after a turbo failed, luckily on the way to today's (Sunday's) first service.

Peugeot's Harri Rovapera drove solidly in the sole remaining 206 WRC and overcame driveshaft problems on the day's final section to finish in second place.

"This is a really good result for me and the whole team," said Rovanpera. "In the last section I had two broken driveshafts, which made the car very difficult to drive. We even thought we might not make the finish."

The celebrations may be somewhat premature however, and the Finnish one-two could yet be in jeopardy. As the winners headed to the podium, event stewards were finally preparing to hear a protest from Ford that Rovanpera entered a control on the opening day from the wrong direction. Bizarrely it has taken over two days of the most dangerous event in the championship to get this issue to court and, should the stewards agree with Ford's view, Rovanpera could face face exclusion from the event.

Skoda team leader Armin Schwarz scored a stunning third place and the German's Octavia WRC did not miss a beat throughout the entire event.

"I'm delighted to score a podium for Skoda," said Schwarz. "We always knew what sort of pace the car could cope with, so we stuck to that and it worked."

Schwarz's team mate Bruno Thiry was less fortunate. Low cloud followed by a mix-up meant the two Skoda's completed the first stage of the day without a safety helicopter, causing heavy criticism from both drivers. Ironically, Thiry then rolled his Octavia on the final stage of the day. The Belgian and co-driver Stephan Prevot both escaped unhurt and a chopper was on hand, but the pair missed out on fifth place and points.

"The downside is Bruno's accident," said Schwarz. "And it shows just how important the helicopters are."

Also high in the bad luck stakes was Makinen's team mate Freddy Loix, who's run of misfortune from the second leg continued into the final day. The turbo in his Mitsubishi Carisma blew on the final stage costing the Belgian 30 minutes and leaving him fifth overall. Had the same penalty befallen Makinen it would surely have cost him the win...

For full Safari Rally results, click here.

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