McRae and Burns on brink of Argentina one-two

Colin McRae and Richard Burns are perfectly poised to take a British one-two on Rally Argentina after spending a second consecutive day in a class of their own, with McRae comfortably in the lead more than 30 seconds ahead of his Subaru rival

McRae and Burns on brink of Argentina one-two

McRae's domination of the event continued throughout today's (Saturday's) second leg and despite trading fastest stage times with Burns, the Scot was untouchable and looks set to put his bid for the world championship back on track after failing to score on the first four events of the year. With six stages still to run, however, the Ford ace is not taking anything for granted.

"It's been hard work and the work's not over yet," said McRae. "I've been pacing myself today and trying to maintain a steady gap to Richard. I didn't need to push unless Richard attacked.

"Tomorrow's stages are harder than today, especially the last two, and so I'll be trying to adjust my pace in the morning to keep the gap to Richard and not have to push too hard on those final stages. Tomorrow is probably the hardest day, so I'm not thinking about the win just yet."

McRae saw his stage win tally cut to just two from today's seven stages, as Burns mounted a fierce challenge and won four with Tommi Makinen ending Pirelli's domination of the times with a narrow win on the final stage of the day.

"It's been pretty frantic today," said Burns. "I don't think it's likely that I can win by just taking time off Colin, but past experience of this event shows you can't ever give up and I won't. I can't do anything except keep up the pressure on Colin."

Third placed Carlos Sainz soldiered on with his niggling back injury, which had kept him up for most of the previous night. The pain subsided a little during the afternoon, but the Spaniard is just pleased to still be in the event.

"The trapped nerve in my back was very painful this morning and I really didn't think I could continue," he said. "It started to ease a little and so I didn't have to pull out [of the rally], but I can't drive any quicker and I won't improve my position unless Colin or Richard have problems. It would be great if I could stay third."

By the day's first service, none of the factory registered drivers had retired from the event, but then the rally lost both Skodas in a bizarre and frightening incident at the regroup. A water tanker was racing to assist at a bush fire on SS11, when it tipped over and landed on Bruno Thiry's Octavia WRC and hit Armin Schwarz's sister car. Thiry, who was sitting in the car at the time, was shaken but unhurt while Skoda's deputy head of motorsport, Dr Jens Pohlmann, was rushed to hospital with broken ribs and a broken pelvis. The German is known to be in a stable condition.

Just six stages stand between McRae and victory, but the final pair, Giulio Cesare and El Condor, are notoriously tough. Both are rocky and El Condor is the highest stage of the championship outside Kenya.

McRae won't be looking at the view though. Ten points from Argentina would catapult him into contention for the title, erase the memory of a dismal start to the year and make a serious improvement in his start position for Cyprus next month.

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