Kankkunen lets Sainz through to win

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The Independent Online
Carlos Sainz, of Spain, raced into contention for a third world championship title yesterday when Juha Kankkunen was ordered to pull over to let his senior Ford team-mate win the Acropolis Rally in Greece.

Sainz crossed the line for his first victory this season, beating the Finn, who had led for most of the race, by 17 seconds. "This result proves many things and it is a wonderful day for everyone in the team," Sainz, the world champion in 1990 and 1992, said.

Britain's Richard Burns, in a Mitsubishi, was initially given third place, but was later dropped to back to fourth behind the reigning world champion, Tommi Makinen, after incurring two time penalties.

Sainz's victory saw him close to within 14 points of the current leader, Makinen, in a Mitsubishi and left him four behind another Briton, Colin McRae, after eight rounds of the championship. McRae's retirement on the second stage and Makinen's tyre and driveshaft problems on the second day left the way open for Ford's and Sainz's first win since Indonesia last year.

Sainz had spent much of the rally behind Kankkunen, after losing more than a minute on the first day when he slid into a bank on the fourth stage. On the second day, though, he set the fastest time on six of the day's seven stages to start the final leg 37 seconds behind Kankkunen.

The Spaniard reduced that gap steadily over the final day to move to within 16 seconds of the lead on the 18th stage, before Kankkunen allowed him to take the lead. The Finn came home second to give Ford their first one-two since the Rally of Portugal in 1993.