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For the media, nothing is more distressing than Sunday night official results delays, and never more so when the event is run in Western hemisphere time zones. Post-rally exclusions are always preceded by hours of debate, but it was extreme after Rally Argentina in 2002. Marcus Gronholm thought he had won in his Peugeot 206 WRC. Earlier, his teammate Gilles Panizzi’s car stopped on a road section and mechanics went to attend, breaking the new one-kilometre exclusion zone rule, only to discover the problem was terminal. In the circumstances the Stewards issued only a reprimand.

Carlos Sainz was eventually awarded the 2002 Rally of Argentina victory in his Ford Focus. Photo: Maurice Selden

Meanwhile, a van carrying other Peugeot mechanics had an accident and the team had to redistribute their service crew activities. Officials saw mechanics waiting beside the rally route and the Stewards that evening excluded Gronholm, as this was his team’s second such offence!
Gronholm’s other teammate, Richard Burns, inherited the lead, but the officials had already closely inspected Burns’ car and discovered an illegal flywheel and excluded him as well.
This was at 21h34 local time, far into Monday morning European time. The very surprised winner was Carlos Sainz in a Ford Focus RS. Two years later, Sainz won the event again, this time in a Citroen Xsara WRC fair and square, a record breaking 26th victory, which was to be his final WRC win.
Richard Burns Argentina 2002

It was a short-lived victory for Richard Burns and his Peugeot 206 WRC. Photo: Maurice Selden

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