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TOYOTA WINS INAUGURAL CHINA RALLY

Toyota's Didier Auriol has grabbed a share of the lead in the World Rally Championship after winning the China Rally.

Auriol and co-driver Denis Giraudet dominated the event to claim victory by 55 seconds in the first WRC event ever held in China.

The French Corolla pairing set the fastest time on five of the last six stages to beat home early rally leader Richard Burns and Robert Reid.

Toyota's Carlos Sainz finished third to help Toyota extend its lead in the manufacturers' standings to 22 points with just three events remaining.

Auriol's maximum point haul takes him to the top of the leaderboard in the drivers' championship, joining Tommi Makinen on 48 points.

Makinen failed to finish in China.

Torrential rain in the buildup to the rally created difficult conditions "It is difficult to describe just how slippery it has been on the stages," Auriol said.

"However, I am obviously delighted."

The rally finished in the town of Jin Shan Ling in the shadows of the Great Wall of China.

Corolla driver Volkan Isik became the first Turkish driver to score a WRC point by finishing sixth overall.

The championship now heads back to Europe for the last asphalt round of the series, Rallye Sanremo to be held from 11-13 October.

Auriol has tasted victory in Italy on three previous occasions.

World Rally Championship standings after round 11 are:

MANUFACTURERS

Toyota 99 points

Subaru 77

Mitsubishi 61

Ford 35

SEAT 18



DRIVERS

Auriol 48 points

Makinen 48

Sainz 38

Kankkunen 37

Burns 35

McRae 23





 
IMAGES
Toyota's Didier Auriol and co-driver Denis Giraudet on their way to victory in the inaugural Rally of China in their Toyota Corolla World Rally Car.