Rally GB: winners' press conference

Richard Burns put on a brave face at the post Rally GB press conference after winning the rally but not the World Championship.

Rally GB: winners' press conference

"I've now won this event three times in a row," he said. "However the past two times have been without the consideration of a championship and so this win feels a little different, I have to admit.

"I came to the event knowing that I didn't have much of a chance of the title. With a nine point deficit, to think otherwise would have been a bit optimistic. Therefore I came here to win the rally and so I'm not so disappointed."

Burns condemned pre-event media speculation that fans would try to influence the result by attempting to stop Marcus Gronholm.

"These were stupid suggestions," he said. "British rally fans, and true rally fans in general, want to see the best drivers in the world driving flat out. The fans have enjoyed a true fight between us for the title and that's how it should be."

Asked if he thought the right man won the title, Burns added: "If anyone says that Marcus isn't a true champion then they're talking s**t!"

The rally was run in treacherously slippery conditions, prompting questions about plans to move the event away from its winter slot.

"It's not much fun competing in these conditions," said Robert Reid, Burns' co-driver. "Spring or autumn would be better. Summer would be as bad as winter because we'd swap mud problems for the dangers of dust."

Newly crowned World Champion Gronholm described how he felt at finally
clinching the title. "It's a fantastic feeling. These have been three very difficult days trying to not make a mistake.

"At the start of the year I had no thought about the title and it was only when I won in Finland that I began to feel that there might be a chance."

Co-driver Timo Rautianen explained the emotions in the car as they crossed the flying finish of the Margam stage.

"We were just screaming in the car!" he said. "I'd tried not to slow Marcus during the event but I must admit that, as we reached the halfway point, I started to ask him to slow down a bit, but it was quite a hard thing to do. He's a very good driver and he's not at his best yet..." he warned.

Team director Corrado Provera quickly added, "And nor is the car. We started this year and it was not at all reliable. By the Acropolis we knew we'd got to do better if we wanted to win anything and so we worked on reliability and that's how we won the titles."

Tommi Makinen took third place and with it saw his four year reign as World Champion come to an end.

"It doesn't really feel strange because I've had a long time to get used to the idea. I'm quite prepared for this moment although it's still a bit disappointing. We'll just have to try again next year."

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