Leg 2: It's Martin vs Solberg

What a day that was! Just when it seemed that World Champion elect Marcus Gronholm was crusing to victory it all went pear-shaped on SS10

Leg 2: It's Martin vs Solberg

Just as the Peugeot blasted out of the woods and onto the short asphalt section on the Epynt military ranges that leads from Dixies Corner to Deers Leap, the Pug got out of shape and rolled into retirement. Mitsubishi's Jani Paasonen played copycat, as did Toyota privateer Tomasz Kuchar and when Francois Delecour planted the sole remaining Mitsubishi near the end of the stage the action was halted while rescue services went in to check on the crews and sweep up the mess.

Right now there will be a host of amateur drivers telling their mates in the bar how the 2002 World Champion had crashed at the same corner where they'd destroyed their own Mk1 Escort, Talbot Sunbeam or whatever, for this was a notorious piece of Welsh asphalt. It is maybe questionable if it was wise to ask the sport's leading crews to tackle the Dixie's Dip on gravel suspension with gravel tyres coated with thick mud but, whatever, it sure set up a grandstand finish to an event that was fast becoming a bit too predictable.

The carnage in Halfway set up the possibility of a new name on the winners' list as neither current leader Markko Martin, or the man harrying him every inch of the way, Petter Solberg have yet won a WRC event. Both have come close this year and now, if they can keep their head under pressure both from within and from outside, a famous victory is on the cards.

There's barely a whisker between them going into tomorrow's final four stages and Carlos Sainz is waiting to pounce, rounding out his Ford career by joining Colin McRae as the most successful driver of all time. There would be an element of revenge should Sainz take the win as it would happen on the same stretch of road where he was so cruelly robbed of the title in 1998 when his Toyota engine let go 500 metres from the finish. But let's not overlook the menacing presence of Richard Burns...

Burns is less than a minute adrift of Martin so tomorrow's second blast through the long Resolfen stage should be decisive. If Burns can light the wick on the 206 then he could slice that advantage in half before the cars tackle Rheola (Friday's SS6) and the two strikes at Margam before the finish.

Tomorrow should be about these four drivers and no others but what a finish to the season it could be for some other teams. Right now, thanks to Gronholm's demise and a broken wheel bearing that has slowed Harri Rovanpera over the final three forest stages today, Hyundai has the one point it needs to finish the season in fourth place ahead of Skoda and Mitsubishi. Two of these teams will also land a place on the World Championship Commission for next year, a vital role in the decision making process, and so much is at stake.

The Junior Championship will also be resolved tomorrow. Andrea Dallavilla may still hold the points lead but he isn't looking like adding to his total in Wales. His lone rival Daniel Sola leads the pack tonight and should cruise it with ease tomorrow - providing he actually makes the finish.

All round it's going to be a good day. There have been times this season when the WRC has lost a little of its sparkle. The mud of Wales wasn't quite the place where we expected to rekindle the flame but thanks to his one error of the year, Marcus Gronholm has lit the blue touch paper. Stand well back!

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Leg 1: Gronholm from start to finish

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