Day 2: Gronholm hits the rocks

Citroen holds a one-two-three on the Monte Carlo Rally after longtime leader Marcus Gronholm of Peugeot hit a rock and severely damaged his Peugeot. He lost over 30 minutes on his rivals, handing the lead to Sebastien Loeb

Day 2: Gronholm hits the rocks

Gronholm's lead was cut to 12s by Loeb after the opening stage of the day, but the Finn hit trouble on the next test, SS10, when he clipped a rock and deranged the steering of his Peugeot 206. He was forced to stop and repair the damage, costing him over 32 minutes. He is now 13th on the leaderboard.

At the end of day two of the event, Loeb holds a 1m07.9s lead over team-mates Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz, who are separated by 37secs. Ford's Markko Martin grabbed fourth from Peugeot's Richard Burns, who also suffered a trying day and lost a lot of time with a poor tyre choice. He is fifth, ahead of the semi-works Peugeot of Cedric Robert.

Martin was one of the real stars of the day. Suffering from a stomach bug, he had only had a couple of hours sleep the night before - and his first food of the day was an apple at 5pm. Nonetheless he regularly set scintillating stage times, despite his relative unfamiliarity with Michelin's tyre range.

His team-mate Mikko Hirvonen had a big crash on the slippery SS9 which stopped the stage, but emerged uninjured. Hyundai's Freddy Loix also crashed out on that stage.

Loeb is four stages away from victory in his home event, but it remains to be seen if Citroen will employ team orders as it holds such a commanding advantage. Loeb is typically sanguine over his chances. "It's a nice lead to have," he acknowledged, "but we have seen this afternoon just how unpredictable Monte Carlo can be."

McRae's co-driver, Derek Ringer, was realistic about their prospects of snatching the victory from under Sebastien's nose. "In the normal scheme of things, I'd say it wasn't possible," he said. "But what is the normal scheme of things in Monte Carlo?"

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