Britain's Richard Burns, driving a Subaru Impreza WRC, won the Rally of Argentina
Burns wins in Argentina, extends lead

CORDOBA, Argentina, May 14 (AFP) - Britain's Richard Burns, driving a Subaru Impreza WRC, won the Rally of Argentina Sunday to extend his lead in the 2000 World Championship to 14 points.

Burns finished ahead of Finnish pair Marcus Gronholm (Peugeot) and Mitsubishi's Tommi Makinen, the reigning world champion with Gronholm, who has proved a revelation this season, more than a minute behind the Briton.

Gronholm (24 points) and Makinen (23) are also the closest challengers to the Englishman in the Championship with Burns now on 38 points after his third triumph this season and the eighth of his career.

Burns, also victorious in Kenya and Portugal, had a difficult first day with technical problems with his engine but 13 victories in 21 special stages indicated how much he dominated this event.

But his victory was not totally without incident, notably when he hit a rock on the 20th special satge and damaged his car in a stage already shortened by 5km for safety reasons.

"I badly judged a bend because of the fog and I went about four or five metres off the track. I was lucky," admitted Burns.

He sealed victory on the Condor Copina peak in the Andes foothills which at 2,215m (7,300 feet) is the highest peak in the World Championship calendar.

That final stage sees a steep slope of 800m in just 17km with muddy conditions and boulders adding further complications.

Burns admitted that it was an unusual experience competing at such altitude, saying: "You could hardly see 50m ahead."

It was a bad event for the Ford Focus team with their two former world champions both pointless after being forced to retire early.

Spaniard Carlos Sainz bowed out after going off the road on the 11th special stage while Scotland's Colin McRae came a cropper on the 17th.

Makinen's third-place finish saw him see off another Finn Juha Kankkunen in a battle of two Finns with four world titles apiece to their name.

Kankunnen had to settle for fourth in his Subaru.