Day 3am: Subaru in the hunt

The Subarus of Petter Solberg and Tommi Makinen charged up the leaderboard as the rain fell in Spain this morning (Sunday), but the big news of the day so far is that longtime championship leader Richard Burns has crashed out of the event

Day 3am: Subaru in the hunt

On the opening stage of the day, the fast 11.55km Sant Bartomeu del Grau test, Pirelli-shod Subaru stars Petter Solberg and Tommi Makinen led the way as the rain fell. The rest, on their Michelin rubber, were closely matched with Carlos Sainz third best, by just 0.4sec from Marcus Gronholm. Colin McRae and Sebastien Loeb were next up, 18.4sec and 18.7sec off Solberg's time respectively.

There was a surprise on the second stage of the day when Czech privateer Roman Kresta put in the fastest time on the short, but very wet, 5.05km La Roca stage. He took full advantage of his second place on the road as conditions became even worse for those starting later.

Makinen was second fastest - despite power-steering problems - and Solberg was third, which was enough for the Norwegian to overhaul Gronholm's Peugeot for eighth. Leader Loeb was caught out on this stage last year, but he increased his advantage over Martin, who was only 13th fastest.

The third stage of the morning, the 35.18km Viladrau test, claimed Burns, who went off the road after hitting some mud and struck a wall, which wrecked his steering. His exit has virtually extinguished his title hopes for 2004. Makinen is now up to seventh overall, 3.6s ahead of eighth placed Gronholm, while Solberg has risen to sixth but looks poised to make more progress in the final three stages.

At the front, Loeb leads by 49.7secs from new second place man Gilles Panizzi (Peugeot). Markko Martin's Ford has slipped back to third, but still ahead of championship leader Sainz (Citroen).


Sebastien Loeb (Citroen)
Gilles Panizzi (Peugeot) +49.7s
Markko Martin (Ford) +1m01.3s
Carlos Sainz (Citroen) +1m19.3s
François Duval (Ford) +1m35.2s
Petter Solberg (Subaru) +1m39.2s

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