Super Special: Martin makes flying start

Markko Martin kicked off the final round of the 2002 World Rally Championship with a fine stage win on the Super Special held at Cardiff's Docklands. The Estonian was in stunning form in his Ford Focus, setting the fastest time by over half a second

Super Special: Martin makes flying start

Despite the cold and rain, the fans flocked to the tight and twisty arena and they were treated to some great action. Brit Mark Higgins was the early pace-setter but he was bumped down the order as the big-hitters showed their class as the night wore on and he ended up 13th in his sister Focus.

Petter Solberg, who's something of a Super Special specialist, was next up after Martin, while crowd favourite Colin McRae was third quickest after overcoming Richard Burns in the fiercely contested 'Battle of Britain'.

Carlos Sainz, on what is almost certainly his last outing for Ford, was fourth, while world champion Marcus Gronholm was a steady sixth. Arguably the best of the head-to-head contests came between two of the sport's true veterans - Kenneth Eriksson and Juha Kankkunen. The Skoda driver just nicked it on the line to set the ninth best time.

WRC newcomer Justin Dale kept his Mitsubishi off the barriers and was 21st, while MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi received a huge cheer from the crowd. Despite the lights on his Grifone-run Peugeot 206 failing, the Italian was a respectable 25th quickest, less than 10 seconds down on Martin.

The real battle starts on Friday, and with typically changeable weather forecast in the Welsh forests, expect the unexpected...

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