Solberg on top of the world
Norwegian Petter Solberg gave Subaru's new car a winning debut in Mexico on Sunday to seize the lead in the world rally championship.

The 2003 champion controlled the event from start to finish, mastering the rough gravel roads around the central Mexican city of Leon to cruise to his second successive win in three races.

Solberg beat Finland's Marcus Gronholm, driving a Peugeot, by a comfortable 34.5 seconds after 14 stages over three days.

The victory lifted the Norwegian, winner of the previous round in Sweden with the old Subaru Impreza, to the top of the standings with 20 points.

Gronholm's Estonian team mate Markko Martin is second overall with 19 points after finishing third on Sunday, helping Peugeot take the lead in the manufacturers' standings from Ford.

Peugeot now have 31 points to Ford's 25, while Mitsubishi and Subaru have 20.

Finland's Toni Gardemeister, who had led the standings for Ford after the first two rounds, finished sixth behind compatriot Harri Rovanpera's Mitsubishi and slipped to third in the championship with 17 points.

Citroen's world champion Sebastien Loeb cemented a fighting comeback by snatching fourth place on the final and longest stage of the rally after losing nearly four minutes with a suspension problem on Friday.

The Frenchman, winner of the season-opening Monte Carlo rally, won the last three stages and is fourth in the standings with 15 points.

"It was a very good race," said Loeb, whose Belgian team mate Francois Duval retired with engine failure. "I think I was a bit unlucky -- the suspension we've had for two years broke. We tried to go as fast as possible.

"I pushed hard and I'm pleased with my performance. With Friday's disappointment behind me, I was very motivated and as I moved up the order that motivation got even stronger. Fourth for me is a very good result."

Solberg's victory made up for the disappointment of last year when a time penalty cost him his hopes of winning the rally on its championship debut.

Germany's Antony Warmbold, in a privately-entered Ford, took two points for seventh place just ahead of Mitsubishi's French driver Gilles Panizzi.

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Solberg Heading for Victory in Mexico
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