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Thursday, January 21, 1999 Published at 11:13 GMT


McRae third in Monte Carlo

First for Ford: McRae keeps his cool in the snow in his new car

Britain's Colin McRae marked his debut rally for Ford with an impressive third place finish in Monte Carlo.

Mark Eades rounds up Tommi Makinen's recent performance (BBC World)
Reigning world champion Tommi Makinen began the new season in the same form he showed last year with first place in his Mitsubishi.

The Finn, launching his bid for a fourth title in a row, secured a commanding two-minute victory over compatriot Juha Kankkunen.

A delighted McRae said: "I am really satisfied - this has been a great rally. The car was better than we could have hoped.

"We've experienced some mechanical trouble, but nothing surprising for such a new car. I think we will improve in the future."

[ image: Makinen has won the past three world titles]
Makinen has won the past three world titles
McRae lost time on the first stage of the day after driveshaft problems - but he hauled himself back into contention with a superb late effort and eventually clinched a podium finish.

But the Scottish driver will lose the four championship points his third place earned if the team's appeal over their illegal water pump fails at next month's hearing.

Makinen said: "I am really happy. It is one of the most difficult events I have ever won because the conditions were extreme.

"It is about time another Finn won here. The toughest moment was on the first day when a disc brake broke, but fortunately it was solved quickly."

McRae's fellow Briton Richard Burns, who won the Network Q Rally of Britain last November, finished in ninth place in a Subaru.

France's Gilles Panizzi, second overnight, was forced to pull out of the event during Wednesday's final stage.

And 1998 Monte Carlo winner Carlos Sainz dropped out within five miles of the start of the rally on Monday.

The Spaniard seriously damaged the front of his Toyota when he crashed off the road on dangerous ice just outside the town of Gap, but he escaped unhurt.

Sainz was one of 14 drivers who were forced out of the race during the chaotic first stage.

Final placings (14 timed stages, 424.72 km):
1 Tommi Makinen (Finland) Mitsubishi Lancer 5 hours, 16 minutes and 50.6 seconds
2 Juha Kankkunen (Finland) Subaru Impreza 1:44.7 behind
3 Colin McRae (Britain) Ford Focus 3:16.8
4 Didier Auriol (France) Toyota Corolla 3:52.8
5 Francois Delecour (France) Ford Escort 4:01.2
6 Bruno Thiry (Belgium) Subaru Impreza 4:02.5
7 Piero Liatti (Italy) Seat Cordoba 6:58.1
8 Harri Rovanpera (Finland) Seat Cordoba 7:02.3
9 Richard Burns (Britain) Subaru Impreza 9:24.6
10 Henrik Lundgaard (Denmark) Toyota Corolla 14:06.2

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