Day 3am: Martin in control

Just three stages stand between Markko Martin and victory on the Catalunya Rally. The Estonian is now more than 40s clear of the battle for second between Marcus Gronholm and Carlos Sainz, and it would seem only cruel misfortune can now stop the Ford Focus driver from taking his second straight win

Day 3am: Martin in control

Martin admitted after yesterday's (Saturday's) second leg that he was going to take it easy and try to stay out of trouble. Nevertheless he has not been out of the top three on the morning stages of leg three and was fastest on Viladrau, the final stage prior to service (which was also the longest).

Peugeot star Gronholm is heading for his best result since winning the Rally Finland back in August. The Finn is 43s behind Martin in second place, but is having to drive for his life to stay ahead of Carlos Sainz - performing in front of his home crowd for the last time before retiring.

Just nine seconds separate the pair, and while the Spanish veteran (the only Citroen driver left after team-mate Sebastien Loeb retired yesterday) may be walking away from the sport at the end of the year, he is showing no signs of complacency.

In fourth place overall is the remarkable Stephane Sarrazin who continues to embarrass the factory Subarus. The privately-run, French owned, machine is running on Michelins, which appear to be performing better on the Spanish asphalt than the Pirelli tyres the works cars are using. But even so the ex-Formula 1 driver is proving more and more capable with every WRC event he competes in and even took a stage victory this morning.

Those three back-to-back mid-season victories must seem an age ago to Petter Solberg. The Norweigen is fifth overall, but just as in Corsica two weeks ago his Subaru is all at sea on the smooth asphalt surface. Solberg is 3m20s behind the leader and is even in danger of losing his overall position to Daniel Sola's Mitsubishi, 12s further behind.

Gianluigi Galli is seventh in the second of the factory Lancers ahead of Toni Gardemeister (Skoda), Mikko Hirvonen (Subaru) and privateer Nicolas Vouilloz.

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Day 2: Martin in command

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