McRae: Gruelling day awaits drivers in Cyprus

Colin McRae believes the second batch of stages for leg two of the Cyprus Rally could be crucial in deciding the victor of this all-new event.

McRae: Gruelling day awaits drivers in Cyprus

The crews will begin the day with SS10-12, but McRae believes that the key stages will be the two that follow, a repeat the of yesterday's gruelling SS5 and SS6 combination.

"Today's leg really starts with special stages 13 and 14," said McRae. "I think there's a good chance that they will decide the rally."

Although the loose gravel will no longer be a major factor, the roads are unlikely to be any less daunting and the demands on driver and car will be just as high.

McRae needs to hit back if he is to stop his team mate Carlos Sainz from romping away with this event. Sainz is 1m41.7s ahead of fourth placed McRae who has to catch and pass first Francois Delecour (Peugeot) and Richard Burns (Subaru) before he can attack the Spaniard.

Both Ford drivers have a vested interest in winning this rally. McRae would overtake Marcus Gronholm for the series lead - the Peugeot driver retired yesterday with electrical failure - while Sainz lies one place and nine points adrift of McRae. The Spaniard wants to close the gap and free himself of any fear that the Ford team will ask him to support McRae's title bid rather than go for the crown himself.

So far today it has been the Mitsubishis of Freddy Loix and Tommi Makinen who have, respectively, set the fastest time on the first two stages with Subaru's Juha Kankkunen taking the third. Yesterday Sainz won seven of nine stages with Burns taking the only other two fastest times.

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