Solberg survives tyre drama

Petter Solberg continues to lead Wales Rally GB after SS6, although the Norwegian suffered a major drama in the stage when his tyre exploded, causing major damage to his Subaru Impreza

Solberg survives tyre drama

The problem occurred near the end of the stage, ensuring that Solberg lost only 1.6s of his lead to Sebastien Loeb. However, the Impreza's suffered heavy bodywork damage, leaving his mechanics with a large amount of repair work to do at service.

"Four kilometres from the end of the stage the front right just exploded," said an unhappy Solberg. "F****** hell I can't believe it."

Loeb set the fastest time on the stage, although his run wasn't without drama, as he lost time after a suspected puncture midway through the stage.

"We had a puncture on the front right, or something's gone wrong with the car," said Loeb. "In all the left-hand corners, I just had no grip on the front-end of the car. I don't know what, but something is wrong."

SS6 was run over the Rheola stage for the second time today, and it seems likely that the condition of the road surface could have contributed to the tyre troubles experiences by Solberg and Loeb.

Colin McRae was third quickest through the stage after making some positive set-up changes to his Xsara WRC, 2.3s down on team-mate Loeb, and took 10.2s out of Tommi Makinen's lead in the fight for third overall. The Finn still holds the position, although the Scot is just 10.8s down the road.

The battle for fifth and sixth position is an all Peugeot affair between the works 206 WRC of Harri Rovanpera and the privateer Bozian machine of Gilles Panizzi. The asphalt ace impressed with his pace through the muddy forests of Wales for much of the day, although he was 7.8s slower than Rovanpera on SS6, allowing the Finn to leap-frog into fifth overall.

Francois Duval, the lone works Ford representative remaining in the rally, runs a lonely seventh, comfortably ahead of Peugeot privateer Roman Kresta. However, the Cezch driver is facing a challenge from Freddy Loix, who closed in after a strong sixth fastest time on SS6.

The final stage of the day is another blast around Cardiff's superspecial at 19.38 GMT tonight, and is unlikely to shake up the order much. We'll have all the latest news here on autosport.com

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