Day 2, pm: Martin leads, Sainz hit with penalty

Markko Martin emerged as the leader after the second leg of Rally Argentina today (Saturday), but the day was marred by numberous stage cancellations and a time penalty issued to long-time rally leader Carlos Sainz

Day 2, pm: Martin leads, Sainz hit with penalty

The Estonian had trailed Citroen star Carlos Sainz for most of the day, but every time the Ford star pushed to cut the 20s gap the Spaniard was able to respond.

All that changed when Sainz inadvertently checked into service after SS19, and awarded a one-minute penalty for his actions. This dropped him down to fourth in the standings, although he was able to fight past Richard Burns on SS20, the day's final stage, to lit third at the end of the leg. Sportingly, reports indicate that Martin tried to warn Sainz by sounding his horn.

Marcus Gronholm, who lost two minutes on Friday when a crash left his Peugeot 206 with just three wheels, staged an incredible fight back over Saturday. After passing Citroen star Sebastien Loab on SS16, he then set the fastest time overall on both SS17 and 18, and in the process despatched Peugeot team-mate Harri Rovanpera, who goes into the final day in fourth.

On the final stage of the day Gronholm was 6.3s quicker than anyone and passed Richard Burns to move into second place, and is now just 15.2s off the lead. Given that he took 10.7s out of Martin on SS20, the Finn will fancy his chances of victory.

But the events on the stages that happened were overshadowed by those that didn't. The first two stages of the day, SS14 and SS15, were cancelled due to spectators standing in dangerous places, and SS16 was nearly two hours late starting.

This caused further problems later in the day when it became clear that not all of the stages could be run in daylight, something most of the drivers opposed. "It's too dangerous to go flat out in the dark and dust," explained Burns.

Eventually, the decision was made to cancel the final two stages of the day, SS21 and 22. In order to ensure that the rally runs the minimum stage mileage required by the FIA, two extra stages will added to the Sunday's schedule. SS20 will be re-run again tomorrow, with the drivers then tackling SS22 before completing the three stages due to be run.

None of this will matter to Sebastien Loeb, however, as the Frenchman crashed off the road and out of the rally on the day's final stage, having sat in an impressive fifth place. Francois Duval has therefore moved up to fifth at the end of the day, ahead of Armin Schwarz and Didier Auriol.

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Day 2, am: Sainz stretches lead

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