Gronholm: I can repeat German form

Marcus Gronholm is still refusing to concede defeat in this year's World Rally Championship. But he admits he's going to need a breakthrough asphalt win on this weekend's Sanremo rally.

Gronholm: I can repeat German form

The Finn is 17 points behind leader Richard Burns with four rounds left to go. Most observers have written off Grönholm's chances of retaining his crown, given the new points system and the fact that Carlos Sainz, Petter Solberg and Sebastien Loeb all lie between him and team-mate Burns.

Add to that the fact that three of the remaining rallies are on asphalt, a surface on which Grönholm has yet to score a win. Finns have only won seven times in the long history of the Sanremo event, compared to eleven successes for French drivers. The statistics won't throw the Peugeot man, however.

"As was the case in Germany, I hope I will be in a postion to challenge for outright victory in Italy if I don't hit any problems," said Gronholm. "I really need a win to keep my championship hopes alive."

Gronholm has had just one podium from four Sanremo starts, and will be up against not only his regular championship rivals but also the asphalt specialists who will add to the competition over the next four weeks. Not least among them is part-time French team-mate Gilles Panizzi, who seems to have had a change of confidence after recently attacking the Peugeot's lack of development.

"The best tactic will be maximum attack," said Panizzi. "I still think this is the car to beat on sealed surfaces. I firmly believe in our chances, as long as the car is as balanced as it was last year. I will do my best to help Peugeot to another world manufacturers' crown. It's an objective that doesn't call for subtle strategies!"

Panizzi has won the last three rallies in Sanremo, but there could be team considerations at play in the coming weeks. Whilst Panizzi can score manufacturer's points for the French marque, the team also has Grönholm and its drivers' title leader Richard Burns to remember.

Philippe Bugalski will be back in a works-specification Citroën for his first outing since Rally Deutschland in July. At times he is spectacular on asphalt and is also out to take points off Grönholm and Peugeot. However, his Sanremo record is not good. He has failed to finish in any of his previous five starts.

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