Ford Rallye Sport’s Markko Märtin and Michael Park found the fast and flowing New Zealand roads very much to their liking as they made huge strides up the leaderboard in their Focus RS World Rally Car. The 26-year-old Estonian driver climbed from 11th to seventh after posting top six times on both the 16.62km Te Papatapu and the classic 29.60km Whaanga Coast speed tests.

However, Märtin was unhappy with his times and feels there is more to come from both himself and his Focus RS. “I’m not finding any real grip and the car is sliding around a lot,” he said. “I don’t think it’s the tyres so we’ll change the anti-roll bars and dampers to see if that helps. I’m not really enjoying it at the moment. I can’t find the speed I know we’re capable of but I’m just not sure why. Having said that, we're moving up the order so that’s good.”

Team-mates Carlos Sainz and Luis Moya remain eighth, 12.7sec behind their team-mates, after spinning their Focus RS in Whaanga Coast. “We spun after about 24km and the car ended up facing in the wrong direction,” said Sainz. “The road was narrow and it was difficult to spin the car back in the right direction again so we dropped about 15 seconds.

Colin McRae and Nicky Grist, leading Ford drivers in sixth after three special stages, retired their Focus RS after going off the road 1.5km from the end of Whaanga Coast.

“I misheard a pace note and went into a downhill right hand bend in third gear instead of second,” explained McRae. “We slid off and hit a fence post. It wasn’t even a car’s length off the road but the post damaged the radiator and when we tried to get the car out, the engine started to overheat. I didn’t want to damage the engine any further so I turned it off. I’m not sure we would have got back on the road anyway but, if we had, I don’t think the car would have reached the service park.”

Leaderboard After Stage 4

1. R Burns/R Reid GB Peugeot 206 54min 03.9sec
2. H Rovanperä/R Pietilainen FIN Peugeot 206 54min 18.1sec
3. M Grönholm/T Rautiainen FIN Peugeot 20 54min 33.9sec6
4. J Paasonen/A Kapanen FIN Mitsubishi Lancer 54min 40.6sec
5. T Mäkinen/K Lindström FIN Subaru Impreza 54min 43.9sec
6. P Solberg/P Mills N Subaru Impreza 54min 53.6sec
7. M Märtin/M Park EE Ford Focus RS 54min 56.8sec
8. C Sainz/L Moya E Ford Focus RS 55min 09.5sec
9. F Loix/S Smeets B Hyundai Accent 55min 10.4sec
10 J Kankkunen/J Repo FIN Hyundai Accent 55min 11.0sec

Published : 04/10/02 Author : Melanie Carter

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