Leg 3am: Gronholm cruising home

Marcus Gronholm cruised his way through the first three stages of the final leg of Rally Finland comfortable in the knowledge that only a massive slice of back luck can deny him victory on his home event

Leg 3am: Gronholm cruising home

The only driver who has any chance of catching the Finn is Richard Burns and the Englishman started the day in the only way he could: by setting the fastest time on the opening stage. He was quicker than his team-mate on the next stage too, but despite his efforts he had taken just over four seconds off Gronholm.

On the third stage the Finn was actually fractions quicker than Burns, and the Englishman knows he needs a miracle if he's to win this event for the first time.

With Colin McRae secure in third, the best battle is for fourth, where Petter Solberg and Carlos Sainz are fighting tooth and nail, with Markko Martin holding a watching brief.

Sainz started the day in fourth and increased his advantage through SS17 and SS18. However, the Spaniard jumped the start of SS18 and was handed a 10-second penalty.

Solberg responded magnificently by setting the fastest time on SS19 - 3.7s quicker than Sainz - and overhauled the Ford to grab fourth. Martin set top six times in all three stages and is less than 20 seconds behind the sparring pair.

Tommi Makinen is a five-time winner of the event, but this year the Finn has shown none of his usual flair as he battles with a Subaru Impreza he feels is down-on-power. He's currently seventh overall, over a minute behind Martin in the final points-scoring position.

The luckless Alister McRae's Rally finally ended on SS18 with damaged rear suspension on his revised Mitsubishi Lancer.

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Leg 2: Gronholm in control

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