Day 1 am: Rovanpera's morning

Harri Rovanpera's improved form continued in Cyprus this morning as he took fastest time in both the first two stages. The Finn made the most of his 11th position on the road to take his Peugeot into the lead at the halfway point of Day One, which involves just four stages in total.

Day 1 am: Rovanpera's morning

As expected, cars starting in lowly positions have featured strongly on the leaderboard. Surprises include Gilles Panizzi (supposed tarmac specialist) being second overall after the two stages.

Subaru have been most impressive, with Makinen and Solberg in 3rd and 4th places at the lunch break, despite running 5th and 8th on the stage.

The likes of Marcus Gronholm, Markko Martin, Richard Burns (who had a minor puncture) and Carlos Sainz are struggling in 5th, 6th, 10th and 15th respectively.

"I'm happy just to have got back here because conditions are just as rough as we expected them to be," said Martin. "Having a two-hour break here at the regroup and not going near any twisty roads sounds great to me!"

An early retirement is Justin Dale (on his Hyundai debut) with an overheating engine. His team-mate Armin Schwarz also reported suspension damage on SS2, the extent of which is not yet known.

Francois Duval of Ford lost a good deal of time on SS2 (the longest of the rally at 38km) when he lost his automatic gearchange. He's almost a hundred seconds down on Rovanpera and in 16th position.

The remaining two stages today are reruns of the opening two, so the issue of running early on the road should be of far less importance as they have been "cleaned" by the field. Look for the pre-event favourites to make a move towards the top of the leaderboard.


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