Day 1: Martin holds narrow lead

Following a day of intense action in the forests, Ford's Markko Martin leads Rally Finland after grabbing the lead from reigning champion Marcus Gronholm of Peugeot on the last proper stage of the opening day

Day 1: Martin holds narrow lead

Although Gronholm took the advantage after the fourth stage this morning, Martin kept right in his wheeltracks as the afternoon developed. He retook the lead on the final forest stage, the 20.17km Kruununpaera 2, and turned a 0.8sec deficit into a 2.7sec advantage with only the formality of a superspecial in Killeri remaining.

"I'm happy with the car, it's working exactly as I want it to and it's good to be involved in this kind of battle with Marcus," said Martin. "I made some mistakes today, including sliding into a ditch on the first corner of one stage. I think we were just too keen. Then it rained very hard on the next two tests, and it was hard to get proper grip in those conditions."

Gronholm said: "I ran with new tyres that I had not tested before and I did not feel very confident with them at all. On the first stage after the last service I went off slightly on a corner, and after that I decided to be careful."

Richard Burns had an encouraging day, which included a fastest stage time despite the fact he was playing 'roadsweeper' as the first car on the road, as he defends his world championship lead. The Englishman ends day one in a solid third place, 25secs clear of the battle between Colin McRae (Citroen) and Petter Solberg (Subaru).

"I'm quite happy with the way things are going so far," said Burns. Expect him to figure even more strongly tomorrow.

Citroen's Carlos Sainz is sixth, ahead of team-mate Sebastien Loeb, who suffered a slow start to the day, and Subaru's Tommi Makinen, who usually shines on this event. Peugeot's Harri Rovanpera was eighth quickest on the final stage, but languishes 24mins off the pace after his suspension-related accident this morning.

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Day 1am: Gronholm shades Martin
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