Gronholm not confident

Swedish Rally leader Marcus Gronholm is not expecting to hang onto his advantage over Petter Solberg at the end of the day, feeling that his Norweigan rival will have the edge on this afternoon's less snowy stages

Gronholm not confident

Gronholm and Solberg have swapped the lead repeatedly since the rally kicked off on Friday. Solberg led SS1-2 before Gronholm took charge for SS3-5. Petter was back in front on SS6, but Gronholm edged ahead by 0.2s on the following stage. Solberg then retook the lead on SS9 today before Gronholm struck back on SS11. He now leads by just 0.1s as the cars return for a second passage of the stages used first thing this morning.

The level of snow on the Fredriksberg and Lejen stages suited Gronholm, who has not enjoyed the half-ice, half-gravel surfaces encountered on most of the rally. Solberg was mighty on the mostly gravel Vargasen stage this morning however, and this stage will be used again this afternoon.

"Those two stages were much more like the Swedish Rally," he said at the lunchtime service halt. "We had good grip, and the grip was more constant.

"I have to say I'm not looking forward to the re-run stages. Petter took 9s out of me there on the first run, so you could say I'm not so confident of leading tonight."

Solberg was enjoying their titanic battle for the lead and reckoned only a poor tyre choice had held him back on the snowy stages.

"It's incredible out there now, really good fun," he said. "I think he (Gronholm) had the advantage on those two stages. I had the wrong cut in my tyres and that certainly cost us time, but look at the gap with still a day and a half to go!"

Sebastien Loeb had been right with Solberg and Gronholm on leg one but has begun to slip back after a few minor errors, starting with an overshoot yesterday afternoon and then a fleeting trip into a ditch earlier today.

"We found no grip and we were off for maybe 3-5s," he said. "There was more snow in those stages than we had expected. In some places it was quite tricky, but we're still here."

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