Gronholm wins Rally of Greece
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Gronholm wins Rally of Greece

Date: 05 Jun 2006 Author Type: Registered Journalist
Author: Andrew Walker
Finland`s Marcus Gronholm won the Rally of Greece on Sunday ahead of defending two-time world rally champion Sebastien Loeb of France.

The 38-year-old Ford Focus driver had been leading since Friday`s second special stage to finish 2min 26.8sec ahead of Citroen Xsara driver Loeb whose push had been hampered by a puncture during Saturday`s 13th special.

Gronholm dominated by winning 11 of the 18 stages, including the final stage of the race.

"Since the beginning of the year we`ve had good rhythm but we haven`t had much luck," said Gronholm. "This time we`re back. This morning we just had to keep the car on the road and avoid punctures.

"In the drivers standings Sebastien (Loeb) is too far ahead, above all if he finishes all the rallys, but I`m sure we can win a maximum of rallys and the constructors title. It will be tough in Germany though because Sebastien will be close to home."

Alacian Loeb holds his overall world championship lead after eight events with a 29-point advantage on Gronholm.

"I prefer winning but finishing second after all that happened to us is good," said Loeb.

"Marcus had a great rally, he didn`t put a foot wrong, and I lost a lot of time on Friday because of problems with the car.

"Things were better on Saturday and I tried to challenge but it was very difficult and then we had a puncture.

"I had a good lead on Marcus but there are still eight races left and a lot can happen. It`s going to be a dogfight because Marcus is a very competitive. It`s not won yet."

Finn Mikko Hirvonen in a Ford Focus was third 3min 43.8sec off the pace.

It is the first win in Greece for 2000 and 2002 world champion Gronholm.

The Finn takes the 21st win of his career and third this season after Monte Carlo and Sweden.

Petter Solberg, who dropped completely out of the rally after a bizarre traffic accident on his way to the final stage of the day on Saturday, finished in seventh place after winning four of the day`s five stages.

The Norwegian was forced to swerve off the road to avoid a reckless driver travelling the wrong way down the road. In doing so, Solberg, who had been in third position, hit a rock and damaged his suspension and steering.

Solberg said: "Once again luck wasn`t on our side. I don`t know what to say, apart from that it`s been a lousy season for me."
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