Leg 2: Solberg breaks Peugeot monopoly

Petter Solberg and Markko Martin were the men on the move this afternoon as changeable weather made tyre selection critical over the final few stages. It gave Pirelli the chance to disprove the theory that it can't perform on asphalt as Solberg took convincing wins by a considerable time margin on the final pair of stages today to catch and pass World Champion Richard Burns for third place

Leg 2: Solberg breaks Peugeot monopoly

Solberg's wins ended the domination of Peugeot and Michelin on this event and, more importantly, set up a fantastic fight for third place.

Burns has been strangely off the pace today and that has also been a factor in Solberg being able to overhaul him for third place and it helped bring Martin into close attention for tomorrow's final four stages. The Estonian has really had the hammer down today and goes into the final day just six seconds off the tail of Burns' Peugeot.

Up at the front, however, Gilles Panizzi reigns supreme with team-mate Marcus Gronholm tracking his every move. The Peugeot pair swapped stage wins over the first four stages today although Gronholm generally got the better of the Frenchman and closed the gap by half to lie 22.1s behind tonight. It is unlikely that the Finn will attack too hard tomorrow as he is not really under pressure from Solberg and the Peugeot team will be keen to claim its seventh maximum points haul and celebrate a hat-trick of Manufacturers' titles.

Second place for Gronholm would leave him 23 points clear of Burns and 24 ahead of Colin McRae with 30 points still available this season on the final three events, each of which has been won at least once by each of the title hunters.

The final stage saw the demise of Toni Gardemeister's Skoda after it smacked itself into a wall and Freddy Loix's Hyundai only just managed to limp to the finish after a similar incident. However, the Belgian has lost the chance to score two teams' points to move level with Mitsubishi and Skoda in the battle for fourth place.

Today's second stage claimed second placed Philippe Bugalski who went off and blocked the stage for a while.

In the Junior Championship, Andrea Dallavilla has taken over the lead on a day when the top crews fought tooth and nail for positions. If he can hang on to his lead then he will top the points and take the title battle to November's Rally GB where he must go head to head with current leader Daniel Sola.

Tomorrow sees stages 11 and 12 run in reverse direction, twice over. It's the shortest day of the event but it could yet be one of the most exciting of the season. Will it be 'Champions du Monde' once more for Peugeot or must they wait at least until New Zealand to crack open the champagne?

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