Leg 2: Loeb handles the pressure

An overshoot on the final stage of today's second leg showed just how hard Citroen's Sebastien Loeb is trying as he bids to claim his first WRC event win. The young Frenchman is under intense pressure from Richard Burns who is in turn having to fend off Marcus Gronholm in the sister Peugeot.

Leg 2: Loeb handles the pressure

Just 25 seconds cover the trio and that is not a comfortable margin for anyone in the three-way battle for the lead. Tomorrow sees three stages grouped in the morning and then repeated soon afterwards, and that means the roads around Saarland will be covered with mud and rubbish dragged onto the track by each passing car, further increasing the potential for disaster.

Peugeot can't afford to put a holding order on its two musketeers and the management will just have to hope that they stay clear of trouble as they bid to spoil Loeb's party.

Burns is aiming to win his first event for Peugeot but Gronholm can sniff his first ever asphalt triumph and that's another tempting scalp for the man most people expect to regain his world crown this season.

Heavy rain made today's stages at Baumholder treacherous in the extreme. Armin Schwarz crashed his Hyundai out of his home event and now faces a painful few weeks to see if his cracked and dislocated ribs can mend in time for San Remo. Hyundai team-mate Freddy Loix didn't even make the stages today, his engine dumping its oil on the road section to the first stage.

Philippe Bugalski was another to go, a brush with a stone ripping off an oil pipe and stranding him after the first stage. Petter Solberg also lost it and spat his Subaru into a rock, tearing off a wheel.

Even the Juniors got caught in the Baumholder traps, Niall McShea rolling his Opel Corsa into retirement and spending a few hours in hospital before the medics sent him on his way.

Loeb may have joined them after damaging his steering but he still hung on grimly to take fastest time on SS13, narrowly denying Francois Delecour claiming Mitsubishi's first stage win for over a year.

Tomorrow's final seven stages (the action concludes with another blast over the St Wendel superspecial) are on roads described by many as like those in Catalunya. That should ensure the leading trio is well suited car-wise but who will crack first as the pressure mounts?

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Leg 2am: Gronholm charges

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