Finland's Tommi Makinen, driving a Mitsubishi, has won the Rally of Portugal, the third round of the World Rally Championship. He finished ahead of Spain's Carlos Sainz in a Ford Focus and now leads in the world championship.
Makinen, four-times world champion, had to fight all the way, however, after Sainz had made up a 13 seconds overnight deficit and took the lead by just a fraction of a second going into the final special stage. Makinen edged eight seconds ahead of Sainz, with reigning world champion Marcus Gronholm of Finland driving his Peugeot into third place. Next came England's Richard Burns in a Subaru Impreza followed by Francois Delecour of France (Ford Focus) and Scotland's Alistair McRae (Hyundai Accent).
Makinen's triumph, his second in Portugal after 1997, was all the more impressive given the terrible conditions that played havoc with the driving over the three days. Fog, heavy rain and mud left the roads treacherous and forced organisers to cancel four of the 22 scheduled specials. Makinen's win hoisted him to the top of the world championship standings with a four point lead over Sainz.