Day 1am: Fords catch Loeb

Showers during the third stage of the Rally Catalunya have tightened up the lead at the front, with world champion Sebastien Loeb finding his 11 seconds lead after the second stage all but completely wiped away

Day 1am: Fords catch Loeb

The 22.55km third stage from Gombren to St. Jaume Frontanya took place under changeable conditions with those cars running towards the end finding it tough going with rain coming down - as they lost grip on the damp asphalt surface.

Ford's Francois Duval benefited the most from the conditions as he set the best rally stage time - ending the run 5.6 seconds faster than team-mate Markko Martin. With Loeb only being able to set the fifth quickest time, almost 16 seconds slower than Duval, the top three in the rally are separated by just more than one second.

Loeb still leads, but he is now just one second ahead of Duval, with Martin a further 0.1 seconds adrift. Marcus Gronholm was third quickest on the stage and he is still fourth overall - just 7.2 seconds behind Loeb.

Local hero Carlos Sainz, gunning for victory on home soil, was fourth quickest on the stage and is still well in contention near the front of the field in fifth place overall. Petter Solberg was sixth on the stage in his Subaru, ahead of team-mate Mikko Hirvonen, Dani Sola's Mitsubishi, Subaru privateer Stephane Sarrazin and Skoda's Toni Gardemeister.

Gilles Panizzi had a dreadful stage, losing more than one minute and dropping from third to 10th place overall.

Freddy Loix's event is already over, with the Belgian's Peugeot stopping with reported electrical problems.

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