Solberg stretches advantage

Petter Solberg has extended his lead over Sebastien Loeb in Wales Rally GB to 14.7s after setting the fastest time on the first two stages of the second day of the event this morning (Saturday)

Solberg stretches advantage

SS8 and 9 saw the crews tackle Chrychan and Halfway high up in the Brecon Beacons. Despite numbingly cold conditions Subaru star Solberg stayed hot, pulling out 4s on Loeb through SS8 and a further 2.7s on SS9.

Colin McRae was third quickest through Chrychan, taking 0.4s out of Tommi Makinen in the fight for third overall. However, Makinen hit back with the third quickest time on Halfway, outpacing McRae by 0.4s to ensure the gap between the two remains an unchanged 11.4s.

Although the leaders all survived the opening loop, there were some casualties further down the order. Gilles Panizzi, who impressed yesterday in a Bozian-run 206 WRC, failed to reach the start of SS8 with a transmission problem, dropping him out of sixth overall.

Meanwhile, there was drama aplenty for the Skoda team. Toni Gardemeister was late to start Chrychan, and finished the stage with his hazard warning lights flashing. Apparently, the front differential on his Fabia has broken, the clutch doesn't work and he's having trouble stopping and starting. Nothing serious then...

Team-mate Didier Auriol didn't escape without incident, although it was mostly of his making. Then Frenchman spun into a ditch early in the stage, and needed help from spectators to push him out. He reported that the car was subsequently difficult to drive.

After a brief regroup, the next two stages will be a re-run of Chrychan and Halfway. The weather forecast suggests that the chilly weather and low cloud will remain, with the possibility of showers later in the day.

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