Gronholm wins Rally Finland

Marcus Gronholm led from start to finish to win Rally Finland, and he moves into the lead in the World Rally Championship. The Finn didn't put a wheel wrong in his Peugeot, and is now six points clear of former series leader Richard Burns who crashed out of the event on day 2

Gronholm wins Rally Finland

Having completed the 22 special stages and the formality of the 100km drive back to Jyvaskala, and the victory celebrations have begun.

"I'm so happy to win here on my home event," said Gronholm. "Today I was happy I could drive fast without any pressure, although it would have been good to have fought Richard to the end."

Colin McRae won the first two stages of the day to challenge Harri Rovanpera for second, and his case was helped when Rovanpera was penalised over a late arrival at a time control.

Going into the final stage, Rovanpera was ahead by just three seconds, after the stewards reduced his penalty from 20 to 10 seconds.

A determined McRae won the final stage, and was six seconds faster than the Finn, to snatch second place by just 3.4 seconds.

"I'm extremely happy with this result," said McRae. "That last stage was perfect, and when you are driving perfectly here it feels almost drama-free in the car. But the spectators have said it looked spectacular. I think this is still the hardest rally in the championship."

The Scot's second place gives his title chances a boost as he retains third position in the championship, now eight points behind Gronholm and six behind Burns. His result also helps move Ford ahead of Subaru to lead the manufacturer's points.

Tommi Makinen, Sebastian Lindholm and Francois Delecour completed the points scorers.

Traction problems saw Didier Auriol slip out of the points for SEAT while Juha Kankkunen put yesterday's tyre dramas behind him to score two points for Subaru and reduce the damage of what had looked like a desperate event for the Banbury team. Burns has now failed to finish his last three events and, while not the end of the world, it has destroyed his early points and psychological advantage.

"We'll just have to hope for better luck in Cyprus," he said.

Indeed the championship now moves on to the Mediterranean island next month for an event where only Skoda's Armin Schwarz (of the current drivers) has any experience of the rally. It will be a tough event, rougher and slower than the Acropolis, but all of the leading protagonists have reliable cars by now and with a level playing field of experience, it could be the toughest event of the season.

Click HERE for the results from Finland.

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Rally Finland, final day: McRae on a charge

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