Leg 2: McRae on target

Colin McRae is in the perfect postion to claim his second consecutive World Rally Championship victory after a day in Kenya when three other former title winners, Richard Burns, Tommi Makinen and Carlos Sainz, fell by the wayside

Leg 2: McRae on target

The Scot will take a 2m26.2s overnight lead into tomorrow's third and final leg of this classic event. On a European rally that would be scant enough margin but in Kenya it means that the slightest error of judgement on the McRae's part could let second placed Harri Rovanpera snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

McRae has stuck to a similar pace throughout the rally and insists he is both comfortable and able to dictate from the front. McRae has matured in recent years from a hot-headed car wrecker into a master-tactician (although he still has his moments!) but he will need every ounce of his abilities to live up to his promises. "Harri is driving very quickly but he must be taking some big risks to do that," he said. "We'll just continue at our own pace."

The potential winners that went out today not only included Makinen, Sainz, Burns, but also Kenneth Eriksson. Burns' demise was perhaps the major story of the day, however.

He was stranded within 1km of a service area when he beached his injured Peugeot in the deep gravel dust on the approach to the time control and was unable to get back out again.

"I knew getting into service was going to be bad so I tried to get up a bit of speed but the car just dug in. We took the wheel off but it made no difference. You risk everything, including your life, at over 180kph but this was a waste of time and an insult to everyone in the championship," he said. As he abandoned his car he walked into the service area in tears of frustration.

The service area at Suswa has been criticised throughout the event for its choking dust that lies half a metre deep in places, and it certainly seems that lack of forward planning by officials cost Burns his Safari Rally hat-trick chance.

Even after the stages were completed this evening there was drama. Third placed Markko Martin found his car would not start as he came to leave the evening's final service and there was panic in the Ford camp as the mechanics struggled to get him going again. He eventually left service 24mins late and the time penalty dropped him to fifth overall.

In many ways the stars of the event have been the Citroen pairing of Sebastien Loeb and Thomas Radstrom. Loeb has twice set fastest times on his Safari debut and the Xsara has stood up well to its first taste of the African event.

Over half the 48-car entry has been forced out and with another 263.15kms to go tomorrow before the crews can take a well-earned rest, more are expected to fall by the wayside. All three stages have been run twice before and the day starts with a third run over the marathon 106.56kms Ntulele test before a repeat of Ildemat and Seyabi, the final test being the one that led to Burns' demise today when he broke a suspension component.

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