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The BBC's Greg Strange
"He's now joined the Finnish rally elite"
 real 14k

Sunday, 13 February, 2000, 14:31 GMT
Gronholm wins Swedish rally

Gronholm races to a maiden victory in Sweden
Marcus Gronholm led a Finnish one-two in the Rally of Sweden, as Scotland's Colin McRae claimed a morale-boosting third place.

Gronholm, driving a Peugeot, finished ahead of compatriot and current world champion, Tommi Makinen in the second event of the season.

Colin McRae settled for a podium finish
McRae, who had not finished in any of his last nine world championship starts, at last came good in his Ford Focus.

He and co-driver Nicky Grist delivered a stunning performance during a thrilling shoot-out on the final speed test on snowy and icy roads to secure third place by just 1.2 seconds from Thomas Radstrom.

"We took everything out of the car except for Nicky and me," joked a delighted McRae.

"After all our problems this is just as good as winning a rally - I was so relieved to see the finish line of the last stage."

Britain's other leading challenger Richard Burns, driving a Subaru Impreza, was fifth, a repeat of his 1999 result.

Alister McRae, Colin's 29-year-old brother, finished an encouraging 14th overall driving an Accent for the Hyundai team who were making their World Championship debut.

First success

It was a first victory in a world title event for 32-year-old Gronholm, whose previous best in Sweden was a fifth in 1998.

Makinen, though, still leads the championship standings by six points.

Gronholm took the lead early during Friday's opening leg and kept it throughout the rally, held in western Sweden.

"I took it easy on the last stage with 15 seconds in hand I could afford to," said Gronholm.

His victory completed a return to form for Peugeot, who had seen all three cars fail to finish in the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally.

It was the team's first win since Timo Salonen won Britain's RAC Rally back in 1986.

Four-time world champion Makinen managed to cut Gronholm's overnight lead - but he could not overhaul his compatriot and finished seven seconds off the pace.

Final standings after three days:

  • 1. Marcus Gronholm (Fin) Peugeot 206 WRC 3hr 20min 33.3sec
  • 2. Tommi Makinen (Fin) Mitsubishi Lancer E at 06.8sec
  • 3. Colin McRae (GB) Ford Focus 13.7
  • 4. Thomas Radstrom (Swe) Toyota Corolla WRC 14.9
  • 5. Richard Burns (GB) Subaru Impreza WRC 35.0
  • 6. Juha Kankkunen (Fin) Subaru Impreza WRC 2:47.6
  • 7. Francois Delecour (Fra) Peugeot 206 WRC 3:31.9
  • 8. Freddy Loix (Bel) Mitsubishi Carisma GT 5:08.3
  • 9. Markko Martin (Est) Toyota Corolla WRC 5:14.0
  • 10. Didier Auriol (Fra) SEAT Cordoba WRC 5:15.9
  • 11. Pasi Hagstrom (Fin) Toyota Corolla WRC 6:15.6
  • 12. Harri Rovanpera (Fin) SEAT Cordoba WRC 7:50.9
  • 13. Kenneth Eriksson (Swe) Hyundai Accent WRC 8:43.9
  • 14. Alister McRae (GB) Hyundai Accent WRC 8:54.2
  • 15. Janne Tuohino (Fin) Toyota Corolla WRC 9:40.4

    Retired: Carlos Sainz (Spa) Ford Focus, Toni Gardemeister (Fin) SEAT Cordoba WRC

    World Championship driver standings

  • 1. Tommi Makinen (Fin) 16 pts
  • 2. Marcus Gronholm (Fin) 10
  • 3. Carlos Sainz (Spa) 6
  • 4. Juha Kankkunen (Fin) 5
  • 5. Colin McRae (GB) 4
  • 6. Toni Gardemeister (Fin) 3, Thomas Radstrom (Swe) 3
  • 8. Bruno Thiry (Bel) 2, Richard Burns (GB) 2
  • 10. Freddy Loix (Bel) 1

    World Championship manufacturers standings:

  • 1. Mitsubishi 18 pts
  • 2. Peugeot 11
  • 3. Ford 10
  • 4. Subaru 9
  • 5. SEAT 3
  • 6. Skoda 1

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    See also:

    12 Feb 00 |  Motorsport
    Flying Finn retains his lead
    11 Feb 00 |  Motorsport
    Gronholm sets Swedish pace
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