Day 1 update: Burns holds slender lead

Richard Burns leads Rally Deutschland with just this evening's 6km Super Special left to run on day one. The Englishman has won more stages than anyone else today (three), but his advantage is a slim one and the Peugeot star is under big pressure from Citroen's Sebastien Loeb and fellow Peugeot man Marcus Gronholm

Day 1 update: Burns holds slender lead

Loeb and Gronholm are just 7.6sec and 8.7sec behind Burns overall - less time than the simplest of overshoots is likely to cost any of the top three, so the prospect for Day Two is an exceptionally tight and tense battle up front.

The man who perhaps should have been if not quite a way clear, but at least well on his way there, was Markko Martin. The Ford driver was the only one to pull out any kind of significant lead.

He'd been clearly fastest through SS4, the longest stage of the day (and the rally), but hit disaster on the very next stage when the loss of his top two gears cost him his rally lead and left him with a 1m26.2sec deficit to make up.

Colin McRae is very nicely placed in fourth place, 27.7sec behind Burns. Citroen's Scot got off to a great start and was second overall after stage two, but an overshoot and some minor car problems dropped him out of the lead battle, for the moment.

Gilles Panizzi has not sparkled as many expected him to, but equally the Peugeot man has not suffered any major time losses and he's well placed to move up over the balance of the rally - fifth and 42.1sec behind Burns.

Carlos Sainz has had the odd overshoot and the odd spin, but he's still sixth overall and breathing down Panizzi's neck, while keeping half an eye out for Francois Duval. Ford man Duval is seventh and has been well on the pace - except on SS4 when a big spin cost him time. Despite that the young Belgian is only 47 seconds behind Burns.

Subaru's Petter Solberg and Tommi Makinen have been out of sorts. Neither has managed any truly compettive stage times. Solberg's had the better time, without any major problems and he's ninth overall behind Robert. Makinen though lost a stack of time to a power steering problem and then retired when that led to a flat battery. Surprisingly Tommi's is the only retirement yet among the top runners on a rally reckoned to be the most bruising asphalt event on the calendar.

Skoda's new Fabia WRC already looks quicker than its predecessor the Octavia WRC, but both Didier Auriol and Toni Gardemeister have had the odd niggle as they carry on with the job they've been given - to carry out an extended and rather public test session.

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Day 1 update: Burns leads overnight

Day 1 update: Burns leads overnight
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