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banner Sunday, 17 June, 2001, 16:10 GMT 17:10 UK
McRae clinches Acropolis win
Colin McRae on his way to victory in Greece
Colin McRae on his way to victory in Greece
Scotland's Colin McRae has won the Acropolis Rally in Greece - his third consecutive victory.

The win gives him a share of the lead in the world championship standings alongside Tommi Makkinen of Finland.

Makkinen finished in fourth place.

McRae's victory became a formality when closest challenger, Ford team-mate Carlos Sainz, was forced to withdraw during the race's final special stage with engine problems.

This sport is very cruel on me sometimes and this is hard to take
Carlos Sainz

The Scot, in a Ford Focus WRC, finished 49 seconds ahead of Norwegian Petter Solberg of Subaru Impreza with Finland's Harri Rovanpera third in a Peugeot 206.

"It was tighter than we'd hoped but I always thought we could win from the front," McRae said.

"It's unfortunate for Carlos but when we saw the pit-board saying that he'd stopped it took all the pressure away."

Sainz was bitterly disappointed at having to withdraw following a mid-leg charge for the lead, when he posted fastest times on three consecutive stages.

Sainz said: "I was very confident of catching Colin but the car just slowed early in the stage and went onto three cylinders and we eventually had to stop.

"This sport is very cruel on me sometimes and this is hard to take. It's a pity because I thought I'd run a really good rally throughout all three days."

Another win in Kenya is more than a possibility
Colin McRae

The win brought McRae level with Sainz and Finland's Juha Kankkunen at the top of the all-time list with 23 World Rally victories.

"It's nice to join Carlos and Juha at the top of the rally wins rankings but it would be even nicer to move ahead," added McRae.

"There's a long way to go in the championship - we're only at the halfway point - but it's looking good for us now. The car is strong and another win in Kenya is more than a possibility."

With 60 points, Ford lead the constructors' championship by seven points from Mitsubishi.

Solberg's second-placed finish marked a career-best for the Norwegian.

Richard Burns had earlier retired from the race with a suspected broken propshaft.

FIA World Rally Championship, round 7 Acropolis Rally, Greece, final positions:

1 Colin McRae (GB) Ford Focus WRC 4 hrs 19 mins 01.9 secs
2 Petter Solberg (Nor) Subaru Impreza WRC at 49.0 secs
3 Harri Rovanpera (Fin) Peugeot 206 WRC 1:35.7
4 Tommi Makinen (Fin) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 2:15.3
5 Francois Delecour (Fra) Ford Focus WRC 2:35.4
6 Philippe Bugalski (Fra) Citroen Xsara WRC 4:00.2
7 Armin Schwarz (Ger) Skoda Octavia WRC 5:56.7
8 Simon Jean-Joseph (Fra) Peugeot 206 WRC 7:27.1
9 Freddy Loix (Bel) Mitsubishi Carisma GT 8:00.9
10 Bruno Thiry (Bel) Skoda Octavia WRC 8:35.7

World Drivers' Championship:

1 McRae 30 points
2 Makinen 30
3 Carlos Sainz (Spa) Ford 26
4 Richard Burns (GB) Subaru 15
5 Rovanpera 14
6 Delecour 11

BBC Sport's Greg Strange
Reports from Greece
Colin McRae
"We couldn't ask for anything more"
World Rally Championship


Colin and Alister McRae
Brothers in arms

World Rally Championship calendar
All the rally dates

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