Day 2am: Martin retakes lead

Markko Martin regained the lead of the Rallye de France on Corsica from Ford team-mate Francois Duval as he dominated the two morning stages of the second leg

Day 2am: Martin retakes lead

The Estonian, who lost his lead to Duval yesterday afternoon, was a full 20s faster than anyone on the damp 36.2km Vico 1 stage. He not only erased Duval's advantage but established a 5s cushion of his own. He then blasted through SS6 to increase that lead to 17s as the field rolled into the midday service.

Duval is now the only man realistically in touch with Martin and confirmed it by going second quickest on both the morning stages as the Focus continues to be the class of the field on the Corsican asphalt.

World Rally Championship leader Sebastien Loeb, who will clinch the title if the order remains the same, is 57.3s behind Martin in third. The Frenchman admitted a desire to win his home event before it began, but now appears to be heeding the advice of caution from his fellow Citroen team members who want Loeb to put his championship ambitions first.

Loeb's team-mate remains Carlos Sainz fourth overall ahead of Peugeot 307 driver Marcus Gronholm. The pair failed to register times on SS5 after they stopped at the scene of Cedric Robert's accident. They were later granted nominal times based on their performance so far in the rally.

Reigning world champion and title challenger Petter Solberg is down in sixth and struggling. The Norweigen Subaru star is nearly a minute and a half behind Gronholm and is slipping back.

Former F1 driver Stephane Sarrazin, as he did in Germany, is impressing on the asphalt surface. The French Subaru driver, much like fellow privateer Alexandre Bengue in a Peugeot 206, is showing a clean pair of heels to the rest of the works stars including factory Subaru driver Mikko Hirvonen who languishes in 12th.

Peugeot's Freddy Loix is ninth as he continues to battle away with Skoda drivers Toni Gardemeister and Armin Schwarz.

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