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Four drivers change engines

Four drivers made engine changes yesterday after they all struck rocks embedded in the road during a shakedown test ahead of today's start of the Rally Mexico

The four - reigning champion Sebastien Loeb, Mitsubishi pair Harri Rovanpera and Gilles Panizzi, and Skoda's Jani Paasonen - have been allowed to make an effectively penalty free change before the first stage.

A new rule was introduced this year stating all competitors have to run for two events per engine, along the lines of the recent Formula One ruling. Should a rally team change engines they would normal incur a penalty of twenty seconds added to their driver's time.

However, given that the recent rains in the region have washed away large parts of the normal gravel base to expose the large rocks below, officials are understood to have handed down a cursory financial penalty, as the problems were not of the teams' making.

All teams will now be very wary of this problem during the rally, and it is likely to remove a number of drivers over the course of the weekend.

Peugeot drivers Markko Martin and Marcus Gronholm were the quickest runners over the shakedown.

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