Peugeot Sport director Jean-Pierre Nicolas admits the 307 WRC was put into competition too soon, but Harri Rovenpera says the new car will nevertheless be a strong title contender.

Peugeot Sport director Jean-Pierre Nicolas admits the 307 WRC was put into competition too soon, but Harri Rovenpera says the new car will nevertheless be a strong title contender.


At the end of the 2003, Peugeot replaced the championship-winning 206 WRC with the newly-developed 307 WRC, which Nicolas this week revealed “was not completely ready to go” when the season began.


“At the end of November/beginning of December, we took the very difficult decision to enter the 307. We were sure about the performance of the car, but as usual, it is only in rallies that you discover problems. We made a mistake in thinking that we could win quickly,” he told .


To date, the 307 WRC has been a disappointment in terms of outright performance and reliability. The team’s lead driver Marcus Gronholm has been vocal in criticising the new machine and does not have particularly high expectations for the Rally of New Zealand after further transmission problems dogged a recent test session.


However, Peugeot returnee Harri Rovanpera is convinced that the multiple title-winning marque's new 307 WRC is still a title contender. Peugeot motorsport boss Corrado Provera has pledged that the team will sort the problems in time for Rally New Zealand, and Rovanpera has praised the commitment shown by the company in getting its drivers back onto the top step of the podium.


"I've never seen the team working as hard as they are doing now," he said. "Everybody is focused on making the 307 as fast and reliable as possible. But it's not a really bad situation – it's normal to have a few problems with any new car."


Rovanpera has admitted, however, that Peugeot needs to find a quick solution to the problems, as it could quickly lose ground to its chief rivals in the battle for the championship.


"Ford, Citroen and Subaru are very fast now, so we cannot waste any time" he said. "The important thing is to make the car reliable, so that it can stay finishing in the top five until it is ready to win. If that happens, then Peugeot can be champions again."

Original article from Car