Day 2am: Martin hit by penalty

Sebastien Loeb has substantially increased his lead on the Sanremo Rally, despite Markko Martin setting the fastest time on both of the stages run on the second morning of the event. The Ford ace dropped 30s before he turned a wheel in anger, when he was hit with a time penalty for leaving service three minutes late

Day 2am: Martin hit by penalty

The Estonian's car refused to fire up in the morning because of a problem with an electronic control box. Ford mechanics quickly replaced the unit, but he was three minutes late reaching the time control resulting in a 30s penalty. This dropped him down behind Marcus Gronholm into third overall - over a minute down on Loeb.

Martin hit back on the stages, setting the fastest time on both SS7 and 8. This moved him back ahead of Gronholm, but he still trails Loeb by 52.1s. The Citroen star was second fastest on SS7 - just 0.7s slower than Martin - but only seventh quickest on SS8, though he only dropped 9.6s to the Estonian. Despite his pace, Martin is aware that it will be virtually impossible to catch the event leader.

"There's no chance to catch him by driving," admitted Martin. "One or two second ok, but not one minute."

Loeb said: "It's going very well for us. It's a wonderful situation, but it's not easy to drive like this - it's easier when you are fighting with another driver. We'll try to drive in a good rhythm and try not to make a mistake."

Peugeot star Gronholm continues to run in third, just 10.8s behind Martin thanks to the Estonian's penalty. The Finn also has the luxury of a large gap of 32.9s of Carlos Sainz in fourth, but his pre-event talk of taking victory has been silenced by Loeb's pace. "I don't try to catch him any more," he said," because there's no chance. I just do my own pace now."

Ford youngster Francois Duval runs fifth, just under 10s behind Sainz. However, the Belgian is coming under pressure from a charging Gilles Panizzi. The Peugeot star, doubtless smarting from being shown up on his favoured asphalt by team-mate Gronholm, set the second fastest time on SS8, and is only 2.7s behind Duval.

Colin McRae is in a lonely seventh, over 30s behind Panizzi, but over a minute ahead of Phillipe Bugalski. The privateer Citroen driver outpaced Subaru star Tommi Makinen on both of the morning's stages to pass the Finn for eighth, and the final championship point.

A new day hasn't brought new hope to Richard Burns. The championship leader lost over a minute to the leader's on SS7, and suffered the ignominy of being passed by Peugeot privateer Cedric Robert for 10th overall. The Briton snatched the position back on SS8, but that will be small comfort as he watches his points lead come under threat.

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Day 1: Loeb brushes off Martin's challenge
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Day 2: Martin dominates but Loeb still leads

Day 2: Martin dominates but Loeb still leads
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