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Citroen setbacks seal Peugeot one-two.

Meanwhile, teammate Freddy Loix produced what many are describing as his best ever drive since joining the Japanese manufacturer in 1999.

On his way to 5th overall, the Belgian's stage times were frequently on a par with, and sometimes even topped those of his illustrious teammate. Only temporary handling problems on Day 2 – traced back to a centre differential problem – prevented him from finishing even closer to the four-times World Champion.

''It's been a very good rally for me this time,'' confirmed Freddy. ''The start was good, the second day we had some small problems, but today we attacked and took Carlos and Francois. The next rallies are on gravel and we know our car is quicker than the cars in front on that surface, so hopefully things are looking quite good.''

Adding to their comments, Marlboro Mitsubishi Ralliart team manager George Donaldson said: ''Both drivers have performed superbly amid very strong competition and it is good to have both crews in the points. We have plenty to be pleased about, but that's not to say we can rest on our laurels - we've still got work to do.''

In contrast to its winning form on the Spanish round twelve months ago running on Michelin tyres, the Ford Focus never looked like mixing it with the front-runners.

After fuel pressure problems eliminated last year's winner Colin McRae on Day 1, Sainz, Delecour and Freddy Loix were involved in a superb fight for fifth and positions changed with each stage this morning as a handful of seconds covered the trio.

Loix grabbed the initiative on the first, Sainz regained the advantage on the next and Loix moved ahead again by the midpoint of the leg when just 5.4sec split the three.

During the afternoon Madrid-based Sainz was unable to hold Loix and settled for sixth. ''It's not been an easy weekend but I was pushing hard this morning and a point was more than we thought we'd achieve after our first day difficulties,'' he said. ''Before the rally I said a finish in the points would be a good result and I was proved right.

''We've learned much on our first asphalt rally with Pirelli and we know we have plenty of work to do. We lost a little ground to Tommi in the championship so it's important we win a rally because then we gain on everyone. It's difficult here in Spain because everyone expects so much. I'm looking forward to a gravel rally now,'' he added.

Delecour's hopes of a points-scoring finish ended when he was penalised 10 seconds for a jump start on the third stage today. ''The car is a little difficult to get moving and I simply let the clutch up too early and broke the timing beam,'' he explained. ''It was disappointing to end like that after such a good fight. It's been a difficult rally. Our car didn't feel bad but we couldn't match the others here and I think we need to work closely with Pirelli to make improvements for the next asphalt rally later in the season.''



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