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New Pug quickest in Monte shakedown
Monte Carlo · Peugeot · 22/01/2004 15:26:06



Shakedown for the Monte Carlo Rally - round one of the 2004 World Rally Championship - has finished and it was Marcus Gronholm who set the pace in the new Peugeot 307 WRC.

The new machine, based on the 307 Coupe Cabriolet, has undergone a great deal of testing and development ahead of its world championship debut so it's no surprise that, on shakedown pace at least, Peugeot look to have got its numbers right.

All the WRC crews successfully negotiated the shakedown stage at Sospel this aftenoon (Thursday) with nobody slipping up in the all-important warm-up to the main event that starts tomorrow morning.

The cautious approach was echoed by all the drivers. World Champion Petter Solberg admitted that he had to "calm down at the start of rallies" in a bid to get early points on the board.

Gronholm's team mate Freddy Loix was full of confidence. "I am sure we are ready," he said at the post shakedown press conference. "The car is improving all the time," he added.

Sebastien Loeb, last year's winner, wasn't giving much away when asked the secret of his Monte success.

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"There's no secret," he said, "you just have to find a rhythm and stick to it."

An air of confidence surrounds the Ford team, too. A recent four-day test threw up no problems and Markko Martin and Francois Duval are two of the quickest guys around.

"I like the Monte," admitted Duval. "A top five finish would be good. I just want to finish as many rallies as possible."

Frenchman and acknowledged tarmac ace Gilles Panizzi was happy with the new Mitsubishi Lancer he will campaiging on all 16 events in 2004. "We can go fast," he warned. "This is a difficult event, for sure, but we are looking to the future. We discover more about the car every day."

Our very own weather experts tell us that the two stages scheduled for tomorrow morning will be very tricky indeed. The temperature in the Selonnet to Breziers and Piegut to Urtis areas is currently -8 degress, with 40% snow! Fairly hazardous to walk in, let alone drive through at break-neck speed!

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SHAKEDOWN TIMES:

Marcus Grönholm (Peugeot) 6m10.2s
François Duval (Ford) 6m10.3s
Sébastien Loeb (Citroen) 6m11.4s
Petter Solberg (Subaru) 6m11.8s
Markko Märtin (Ford) 6m14.0s
Mikko Hirvonen (Subaru) 6m16'.1s
Carlos Sainz (Citroen) 6m17.7s
Freddy Loix (Peugeot) 6m20.1s
Gilles Panizzi (Mitsubishi) 6m33.1s
Gigi Galli (Mitsubishi) 6m51.7s