Day 2: Gronholm on a roll

Marcus Gronholm continues to dominate Rally New Zealand, but he rode his luck today (Saturday) by rolling his Peugeot 206 on to its side on SS13, a mistake he called "stupid". Meanwhile, the impressive debut of the Ford Focus WRC 03 ended when Markko Martin's car stalled after he spun and refused to restart

Day 2: Gronholm on a roll

Gronholm's low-speed slip-up did no worse than ventilate co-driver Timo Rautiainen's side window. But it could have been a lot worse, and was certainly a reminder that there's never any room for complacency.

"It was stupid!" Marcus admitted. "So the car was against the wall, on Timo's side and the first thing this spectator did was open my door and try and get me out! I said 'no, no you have to push and we continue!' Eventually they did that but it was a silly way to lose all that time."

If Gronholm got away with it, team-mate Harri Rovanpera certainly didn't by crashing out on the following stage.

The real sob story of the day was Markko Martin who, having set three fantastic fastest times and was a comfortable second, spun and stalled on the final stage proper stage of the day and gut-wrenchingly discovered that he could not get his new Ford Focus WRC 03 going again. Even Gronholm commented that the Ford would be a car to watch out for in the future.

Martin said: "I'm obviously disappointed but I think we've given some people a fright. The car is unbelievably fun to drive and because we were competing in the same conditions as Marcus today, everyone could see the full potential of the Focus. We were so fast into corners that I surprised myself and sometimes the speed was such that it was hard to get all the pace notes in. It's like being in a PlayStation game!"

Somehow, Marcus managed to emerge from his messy day with the one minute lead he had lost on SS13. Even more bizarrely, Alister McRae is now seventh in a non-works Mitsubishi. "We went into those last two stages 11th or something, and now we're seventh!" quipped co-driver Dave Senior. "At this rate we could end up winning..."

Richard Burns, who had particularly scary brake problems on the final proper stage, lies second with Subaru's Petter Solberg a further 50 seconds back in third. Burns said: "The pedal went to the floor and for the last 10km we effectively had no brakes. We had a few sharp intakes of breath."

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Day 1: Gronholm leads; McRae crashes

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