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  Thursday, 6 February, 2003, 12:58 GMT
Gronholm targets hat-trick
Peugeot's Marcus Gronholm
Gronholm has won the last two Swedish Rallies
World champion Marcus Gronholm is a strong favourite to complete a hat-trick at the Swedish Rally this weekend.

But the 35-year-old Finn, driving for Peugeot, will have to improve on last month's disappointing 13th-place finish in Monte Carlo.

Sweden is a rally that's great fun to compete on

Citroen's Colin McRae

With 16 timed stages, Sweden is one of the fastest rallies on the calendar and has never been won by a non-Nordic driver.

"The key to success is obviously always to go flat out, but the weather in Sweden can make things difficult," said three-times winner Tommi Makinen.

While the Finns and Subaru's Petter Solberg will be the frontrunners, Britain's Richard Burns and Colin McRae will be aiming to break the non-Nordic jinx.

Burns has yet to win for the French team since he left Subaru as world champion at the end of 2001, but Sweden ranks as one of his favourite events.

Peugeot's Richard Burns
Burns has yet to win for Peugeot
"I set my first fastest stage time for Peugeot there last year and it would be great to get my first win for the team in Scandinavia," said the Peugeot driver.

McRae, the 1995 champion who left Ford last year and had a dream debut with Citroen by taking second place in Monte Carlo, is also gunning for another podium.

"Sweden is a rally that's great fun to compete on. The snow banks are very forgiving when you get it wrong," he said.

"If you use them well, they help keep you on the road. I think my driving style is well suited to these conditions."

McRae's Citroen team-mate Sebastien Loeb will be at a disadvantage as the first starter, clearing the roads as a result of his win in Monte Carlo.

World Rally Championship
This year's rallies:

TOP TEAMS AND DRIVERS

 
 
 
See also:

05 Feb 03 | World Rally
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