Markko Martin provided stiff opposition to Marcus Gronholm in New Zealand and the Estonian has warned that his new Ford Focus WRC 03 will ultimately eclipse the champion’s Peugeot 206.

Markko Martin provided stiff opposition to Marcus Gronholm in New Zealand and the Estonian has warned that his new Ford Focus WRC 03 will ultimately eclipse the champion’s Peugeot 206.

Martin was lying in second place for more than half of the Rally of New Zealand, but was forced to retire from the event when his Focus’s cambelt failed on Saturday. It was the first time that Martin has retired with a mechanical problem since joining Ford last year.

“We expected to have problems, but we proved the car was fast, like we expected. This is the rally where we struggled the most last year, so it is good. We managed to put Marcus on the roof (Gronholm rolled his car while leading the rally),” Martin said.

“I think every rally should be good - no reason not to be. For sure it is a great car and I can drive it the way I wanted,” he added.

The Ford Rallye Sport's revolutionary new car nevertheless finished in the world championship points on its debut rally when François Duval and Stéphane Prévot finished ninth.

The Belgian pairing's single point, which was secured on Duval's first New Zealand start, ended a encouraging debut for the new car. The Ford Focus WRC 03 claimed four speed tests victories in the Rally of New Zealand.

Original article from Car