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GP Week : Issue 22
>> WRC FINLAND From just inside the top ten, Chris Atkinson accelerated into an eventual third place! Even further off the pace was the Suzuki team. For half the rally it looked like they may not have the pace but they had reliability – and then Toni Gardemeister was slowed by power steering problems. He continued, driving as hard as he dared, but when his teammate PG Andersson crashed out of the event and retired Gardemeister was told to make sure he reached the finish, which he did, in both Drivers’and Manufacturer’s points zone, in eighth position. The exit of the two Munchi’s Ford team cars late on Saturday was a big disappointment, but already Matthew Wilson was ahead of them and came home ninth, out of the points. The young privateer Zimbabwean driver Conrad Rautenbach came tenth. Going extremely well in the early stages was fellow C4 privateer Urmo Aava, who had been up to third, but then slid off the road. Both Norwegian young drivers Andreas Mikkelsen and Mads Ostberg also left the road. Loeb’s first little bit of luck came in the week before the rally. He was caught speeding during reconnaissance, at some 41kph over the speed limit in force. This was in the realm where the Police seize your driving licence, a customary walking- home scenario, but (happily!) he escaped this fate. Then on the Saturday there was an extraordinary incident in which he went off the road on a road section close to a refuelling zone, and needed the help of spectators to get him on his way again. But neither of these incidents should detract from his efforts. Loeb is only the fourth non- Scandinavian driver to win the event, beating on their home ground the best that the home country had to offer. This was Loeb’s 42nd World Rally win. For the man already in rallying’s stratosphere of achievements, the next major challenge has to be to conquer the Wales Rally GB, not to mention a record fifth successive World title. In two week’s time he goes to Germany, where he has already won the event for an astonishing sixth times running... 37