SS6: Solberg back ahead

Petter Solberg is back in the lead of the Swedish Rally with just the short Hagfors Sprint stage remaining before the end of leg one, but his advantage is still only 0.1s over Marcus Gronholm

SS6: Solberg back ahead

When the drivers returned to the service area at lunchtime today just 0.2s covered the top three on the leaderboard - but Gronholm looked set to make a clear break as he went fastest of all on SS4.

Sebastien Loeb, 0.1s behind Gronholm after SS3, then dropped temporarily out of contention with a minor error on the first stage of the afternoon before fighting back by going quickest on SS5. The world champion's podium spot had briefly been taken by the flying Gigi Galli in the Mitsubishi Lancer, but Loeb's speed through the Hara 2 stage brought him back up to third.

Galli then took his first ever WRC fastest stage time with a superb performance on the difficult Torntorp 2, although this was not quite enough to snatch third place back from Loeb.

Torntorp 2 was the first stage today where a lack of snow on the road caused serious problems, with many of the leaders complaining about the effect that the now mostly gravel surface was having on their studded tyres. Ford's Henning Solberg - who had got up to seventh overall - fared worse than most and slipped to 11th after sustaining a left front puncture.

At less than 2kms in length, SS7 Hagfors would normally be of little consequence to the overall standings, but with such microscopic time gaps separating the contenders it could see yet another change in the overall lead.



Petter Solberg (Subaru Impreza) 56m13.3s
Marcus Gronholm (Peugeot 307) 56m13.4s
Sebastien Loeb (Citroen Xsara) 56m25.9s
Gigi Galli (Mitsubishi Lancer) 56m28.8s
Francois Duval (Citroen Xsara) 56m42.1s
Markko Martin (Peugeot 307) 56m48.5s
Harri Rovanpera (Mitsubishi Lancer) 57m09.7s
Toni Gardemeister (Ford Focus) 57m10.6s
Janne Tuohino (Skoda Fabia) 57m12.7s
Mattias Ekstrom (Skoda Fabia) 57m12.9s

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