Martin targets runner-up spot

Ford's Markko Martin is aiming to finish runner-up in the 2004 World Rally Championship after winning the Catalunya Rally and moving to within three points of rival Petter Solberg

Martin targets runner-up spot

Martin has won the last two events, both run on asphalt where the Focus has been the class of the field. While Solberg has struggled to find any form at all - the Norweigen could only manage to finish fifth in Spain - Martin has been dominant. Such was his command of the event this weekend that he had time to monitor his pursuers split times mid-stage.

"I drove according to the split times of the other drivers, which the team sent to us electronically during the stages," Martin said. "I just matched their pace and drove carefully. As a result I probably drove badly, because it's more difficult to drive relatively slowly than it is when you drive at normal pace.

"We have spent the last two days at the top of the leaderboard with nothing to gain but an awful lot to lose."

Martin was involved in a big fight for the lead on the first day of the rally, but both his team-mate Francois Duval and new world champion Sebastien Loeb were forced out of the event, leaving the 28-year-old all alone at the front of the field.

"When Sebastien Loeb retired yesterday morning," he said, "it took away our only remaining rival. But today has been tough. It was easy to hang onto first place, but difficult to keep the right pace and not make any mistakes on roads that were pretty slippery.

"Last year the Focus RS was the fastest car on asphalt and we had nothing to show for it. Now we have proved twice in two weeks that it's still the best car and I'm delighted for everyone in the team. October has been rather a good month!"

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