Finn's Cyprus win stripped; Loeb given win

Updated: May 26, 2004, 6:38 PM ET
Reuters

LONDON -- Finland's Marcus Gronholm lost his Cyprus Rally win and world championship lead on Wednesday after the governing FIA excluded his Peugeot on technical grounds.

France's Sebastien Loeb, runner-up for champions Citroen in Limassol on May 16, was awarded the victory and took the overall lead.

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) said in a statement that stewards had ruled at a meeting with Peugeot representatives in Paris that the water pumps on Gronholm's car did not conform to the technical regulations.

The Finn, twice world champion, was excluded along with compatriot Harri Rovanpera who finished fifth for the team in Cyprus.

The win would have been Peugeot's first with their new 307 car introduced this season.

Loeb's Citroen and that of Spaniard Carlos Sainz, despite sharing many parts with stablemates Peugeot, were found to conform to the rules.

Gronholm had won the Cyprus Rally, fifth round of the championship, by 54 seconds to take a one-point lead over runner-up Loeb.

Under revised standings, Loeb now has 35 points with Ford's Estonian driver Markko Martin second on 34. Subaru's world champion Petter Solberg of Norway is third with 28 while Gronholm is fourth with 24.

Ford will continue to lead the manufacturers' championship with 55 points to Citroen's 54 and Subaru's 40.

Peugeot was reminded of its right to appeal.

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