Gronholm wins nail-biter
September 2, 2007, 3.15pm. Ford works driver Marcus Gronholm has won the 2007 Rally of New Zealand by an astonishing three-tenths of a second in a duel with Citroen’s Sebastien Loeb that was decided on the super special stage at Mystery Creek, near Hamilton, a few minutes ago.
Gronholm hurled the Focus RS around the three-kilometre test in 2m 52.9s.
On his run, Loeb fired the C4 WRC around four-tenths of a second faster, but just came up short of pegging back the narrow lead Gronholm held going into the test.
It’s the closest finish in Rally NZ history and may be the narrowest in the history of the World Rally Championship.
The day’s six stages have seen a tooth-and-nail battle between Loeb and Gronholm, the margin between the men being as low as one-tenth of a second at one point.
After the final public road stage, the second run through the classic Whaanga Coast test, Gronholm held a lead of seven-tenths if a second.
Mikko Hirvonen finished third in the second works Ford, with Australian Chris Atkinson fourth in the factory Subaru after hunting down Ford’s Jari-Matti Latvala during the morning and passing him on the second run through Whaanga Coast.
Dani Sordo completed the top six in the second works Citroen.