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Burns and Colin McRae separated by a whisker.

Colin McRae said: ''I'm not sure my position here is perfect, because although I'll have a small advantage over Richard I think Carlos will be the big threat tomorrow. He can certainly still win this rally. I just waited for the radio call in the last stage because with the gaps so small, it was worthwhile to be one position behind Richard on the road. It's going to be a good fight, that's for sure.''

Carlos Sainz added: ''We have to do something about this situation, something to make sure that the first few cars don't have such a big disadvantage. I don't know how we'd do it - maybe run some cars through first or something. As far as this rally goes, I still think it's quite open but it'll be difficult for me.''

François Delecour noted: ''It's disappointing because perhaps I wouldn't have been thinking of a victory, but we were certainly able to score some good points in the championship here. I thought the engine lost power because of a fuel problem but then I saw smoke and that was it.''

Meanwhile at Peugeot Marcus Grönholm knocked his 206 WRC's left-rear wheel out of line on today's second stage and although the Finn tried to fix the problem, it soon worsened and cost him further time before service. Didier Auriol, meanwhile, was forced to retire after today's fourth stage when his 206's water temperature rocketed.

Marcus Grönholm had expected to lose time this morning, because his overnight lead meant he'd have to sweep the roads clear for the following crews. He lost the lead as a result and then dropped to fourth as François Delecour and Colin McRae both charged. But when the tests were repeated this afternoon, the Finn was at less of a disadvantage and he kept his time loss to a minimum. Team-mate Didier Auriol benefited from his lowly starting position and the cleaner roads to set a fastest time this morning, but on the fourth stage his 206's engine started to overheat and he retired at the finish.

Marcus Grönholm said: ''I did everything I could to keep the time loss to a minimum but this afternoon we had quite bad tyre wear. We'll find out tomorrow if I've done enough - of course we'll have a slightly cleaner road than today but I'm nearly 20 seconds off the lead now.''

Didier Auriol continued: ''There was no real warning of our problem. We saw some water leaking and then the temperature just went up very quickly. I'm disappointed, because we were setting some good times and there was a chance to fight for points.''

At Mitsubishi Freddy Loix's Lancer Evolution broke a left-front driveshaft on today's opening stage, and the Belgian had to fight with three-wheel drive through the next three stages before lunchtime service in Limassol.

Loix had expected today's stages to favour his Lancer more than the twistier roads he faced yesterday, but his hopes of inching further into the points were hit on the first stage when he broke a driveshaft. François Delecour's retirement promoted him back into the top six, however. Japanese driver Katsuhiko Taguchi continues to gain experience of the Lancer, although his steady pace means he has yet to challenge any of the remaining manufacturer entries. He held 11th as the crews returned to Limassol this evening.

Freddy Loix said: ''It was very frustrating this morning, because I felt I could have a good set-up on the car and I thought the roads would be better for us. But seven kilometres into the stage, I felt the front driveshaft break and then I had three-wheel drive. You've no idea how hard it is to drive the car with that problem - you have to think twice every time you go for the throttle, because it just snaps sideways.''



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