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GP Week : Issue 26
>>WRCNEW ZEALAND akes orld Rallying? THE World Rally Championship is in danger of having the tactics become bigger than the sport. Newscasts throughout New Zealand (and, presumably, the world) showed footage of Sebastien Loeb visibly slowing at the end of the second day in a bid to be over-taken bv the Fords. But far from being bad sportsmanship, Loeb said, it was a sign of the times. “The problem is that people are only talking about the tactic, that’s not good for rallying,”he said. “For people who are not real rally fans, it’s difficult to understand why it is always a question of tactics. I don’t think it’s a good way.” Winning co-driver Daniel Elena was even more forthright. He said that everybody was looking and waiting for a real battle between the drivers. “Now it is just days of nothing. We could go to the discotheque and have a party instead of preparing for the rally. We have to change this.” For example, at the end of the first two days, the leading driver on the road’s first response was about being the sweeper. “Despite the limited amount of grip that was available, I pushed as hard as I could,”said Loeb at the end of Day 1. “We had so much roadsweeping to do that it was really difficult to post quick times.” Mikko Hirvonen’s was similarly resigned at the end of Day 2 having been first on the road. “I could do nothing tactically because I was first on the road,”he mused. “If I could have chosen my start position I would have selected fourth.” zuki make some points IT may have been aided by some last-minute attrition, but the Suzuki World Rally Team had a solid event. With PG Andersson (the visibly faster driver) and Toni Gardemeister coming home sixth and seventh, it was the best result Suzuki, as a team, has had in top-level World Rallying. Even some punctures for Andersson, and a last day spin for Gardemeister, couldn’t stop the SX4s. According to Andersson, going into the final leg with results on the line lead to a slightly lighter right boot … “I drove a little bit like my grandmother this morning,” he said at the finish. “I knew there was so much to lose by making a mistake today, which meant there was quite a lot of pressure. “The car was really good, but it was tough to find a rhythm and get into the morning stages, they were really loose at times. “As well as that, I was struggling a little bit with the pace notes, they were too fast for the corners. “It was such a shame for the last run through Whaanga Coast, that’s a great stage, but a couple of kilometres into the stage we got a puncture, so we had to do the whole stage like that. Then later on, we got another puncture and dropped more time. “Okay, this wasn’t the best way to end it, but it has been a great rally for the whole team – and our faultless SX4 WRC.” 1 Sebastien Loeb Daniel Elena 2 Dani Sordo Marc Marti 3 Mikko Hirvonen Jarmo Lehtinen 4 Petter Solberg Phil Mills 5 Urmo Aava Kuldar Sikk 6 PG Andersson NEW ZEALAND Citroen 3:59.18.9 Citroen +17.5s Ford +41.5s Subaru +2:48.9s Citroen +3:30.7s Suzuki Jonas Andersson +7:37.4s 7 Toni Gardemeister Suzuki Tomi Tuominen +7:54.9s 8 Federico Villagra Ford J Perez Companc +8:35.0s Points: Loeb 86, Hirvonen 78, Sordo 51, Atkinson 40, Latvala 34, P Solberg 32. 41