Leg 1 am: Burns edges out lead

Richard Burns' task to become the first British driver to win the Rally Finland is going to plan in the early stages of the event.

Leg 1 am: Burns edges out lead

The reigning world champion holds a slender lead over Peugeot team-mates Harri Rovanpera and Marcus Gronholm after the first six stages.

Burns took his first ever Super Special win last night before the rally proper got under way this morning. He backed up that performance with the fastest time on SS3, then outpaced rally favourite Gronholm on the following test to take back the lead from the Finn.

He followed that with back-to-back stage wins on SS5 and SS6. But it is still close at the top. Burns, Rovanpera and Gronholm are separated by just 8.4 seconds.

As expected, the local specialists have mixed it with the factory drivers. The most prominent of these was Peugeot's new signing for 2003 Jusso Pykalisto, who made it to fourth on the leaderboard this morning.

But a promising run by the 27-year-old came to an end on SS6 when transmission problems with his 206 WRC forced him to retire.

His demise pushed Colin McRae up to fourth. But the Scot has admitted that a third successive rally victory is looking very unlikely because of the dominant form of the Peugeots.

"Everything is fine, but I just can't keep up with the Peugeots," said the Ford ace. After SS6 he was over 45s down on Burns.

Four more stages are left to run in today's first leg, including another go over the Killeri Super Special this evening.

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Leg 1: Burns heads Peugeot charge

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