Panizzi grabs shock victory

On his last outing for Peugeot as a works driver, asphalt king Gilles Panizzi stole victory from Citroen's Sebastien Loeb on the very last stage of Rally Catalunya

Panizzi grabs shock victory

Loeb set a dazzling pace throughout the event in his Citroen Xsara, apparently keeping the challenges of Ford's Markko Martin and Peugeot's Panizzi at arm's length throughout the asphalt event. But Panizzi, who was 49.7s in arrears with three stages remaining, stormed through the final test of Viladrau to snatch a remarkable victory by 13secs.

"This is a fantastic result," said Peugeot Sport chief Corrado Provera. "It is so important for the team. It is a goodbye gift from Gilles to us."

Panizzi himself said: "Today has been just incredible. I just hoped to finish on the podium. For me, it was impossible to touch Sebastien Loeb... This result is crazy!"

The final stage was disastrous for Citroen, as not only did Loeb lose the victory but team-mate Carlos Sainz ground to a halt in the middle of the test, and dropped from fourth to seventh. All that means they go into the Rally GB title decider tied on points at the head of the championship, but no less than four drivers can take the championship next month.

Loeb held on to second by just 0.6secs from Martin, whose team-mate François Duval finished fourth. Petter Solberg took full advantage of the wet conditions of the final day to climb to fifth place in his Subaru, which means he is just one point off the lead in the points race.

Marcus Gronholm was sixth for Peugeot, ahead of the unlucky local hero Sainz, while Subaru's Tommi Makinen rounded out the points finishers, ahead of Citroen's Colin McRae.


Gilles Panizzi (Peugeot)
Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) +13.0s
Markko Martin (Ford) +13.6s
François Duval (Ford) +55.4s
Petter Solberg (Subaru) +1m10.8s
Marcus Gronholm (Peugeot) +1m29.1s
Carlos Sainz (Citroen) +1m33.0s
Tommi Makinen (Subaru) +1m55.1s

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