Martin survives late oil fire

Rallye de France leader Markko Martin survived a scare on the final stage of leg two when his Ford Focus caught fire 3km from the end of SS8. The Estonian star, who has been fighting an event-long battle for the lead with his team-mate Francois Duval, is trying to win his first event since the Rally Mexico in March

Martin survives late oil fire

"There were flames coming out from under the bonnet," said Martin. "There was no way I was going to stop but I was probably faster over those final 3km than I would have been normally!

"To see flames coming out from under the bonnet was not a nice feeling. We put the fire out at the finish, but we were lucky that we were able to drive straight to service because the power steering stopped working on the liaison section."

The M-Sport team that prepares Ford's factory Focus cars diagnosed the problem to an oil leak in the power-steering rack dripping onto the engine. The team has replaced the rack and repaired the damage for the final day.

Martin clawed back Duval's early lead on the first stage this morning (Saturday) before establishing one of his own, and now heads into the final day with a 20s advantage over his team-mate.

"It's been a difficult, but good, day," said Martin. "We've had every type of weather you can imagine in the mountains. One moment it's nice and the next it's raining. It changed all the time and it worried me all day. I have a good set-up on my car. It's not perfect, it never is in Corsica, but it's worked superbly for me.

"If we don't make any big mistakes with our tyre selection, then I don't think the other teams can catch us. The stages are easier tomorrow. François is obviously my biggest threat but our main challenger could turn out to be the weather. The team needs a one-two finish and so far it has been a Ford show."

Duval has not given up on the fight for victory either. "It's difficult to know whether I can beat Markko but I'm enjoying the battle," said the Belgian. "Even if I can't beat him, second would still be a great result for myself and the team. Markko is driving very well but I have a really good feeling with the car and the tyres and I'll try my best."

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