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Panizzi and Peugeot lead at the end of leg two.

Petter Solberg said: ''We had a lot of front tyre wear in the long stage so we swapped them to the rears for the last test. But about two kilometres into SS12, we slid wide and hit a rock. It damaged the lateral link at the right rear. It's a shame it happened because we'd set some really good times today.''

His team-mate Markko Martin noted: ''The accident was my fault. I think I had marked the braking point too late in my pacenotes because by the time I'd hit the brakes, the car was flying over a bump. After that I just seem to have lost some of the speed I had yesterday.''

Mitsubishi Ralliart managed to solve the transmission problems that blighted the Lancer WRC's first day of competition yesterday, so Freddy Loix and Tommi Mäkinen have been able to experiment with set-ups today. Mäkinen did complain of further glitches in the rear differential in today's second loop of stages, though.

Despite several retirements, both Mitsubishis still lie outside the top ten as both Tommi Mäkinen and Freddy Loix finally start to experiment with set-ups on their new cars. Mäkinen felt that the front end of his Lancer WRC was rolling too much in long corners, causing understeer, while Freddy Loix's pace varied depending on how good a solution he found in his latest batch of suspension settings. Mäkinen arrived back in Sanremo in 11th, Loix in 13th.

Tommi Makinen said: ''It's clear that we still have a lot of work to do and I'm not sure how much can be done before Corsica, because even when the transmission's working we are needing more speed. The handling hasn't really been perfect here - we're both getting too much understeer.''

At Skoda the Octavia WRCs of Bruno Thiry and Roman Kresta have been reliable today. Bruno Thiry has experimented with damper and spring settings, and the Belgian is now more confident with his Octavia over the bumpier Italian roads than when the rally started. He still lies outside the top ten, along with his team-mate Roman Kresta. The Czech driver continues to enjoy his experience-building run.

Bruno Thiry said: ''Before, the car was bouncing all over the place on bumps and it felt very nervous. I'd no confidence with it. Now I'm much happier - we've really found some improvements in set-ups during this rally. I'm not sure they'll be useful in Corsica in two weeks, though, because that's a completely different type of asphalt.''

The sole remaining Hyundai Accent WRC2 of Alister McRae retired after the penultimate stage of the day with brake problem. The Scot said: ''I'm obviously disappointed we had to retire but I'm more frustrated after making a silly mistake yesterday and losing all that time. We've driven as hard as possible today and managed to regain 21 places, and after the number of problems everyone has been having we thought we might still be in with a chance at getting manufacturer points. But by the end of stage 11b our brakes had softened so much that it wouldn't have been safe to continue. Now we just have to look forward to getting a better result in Corsica.''

Of the other teams two non-manufacturer World Rally Cars have moved inside the top ten today. The Peugeot 206 WRC of Renato Travaglia challenged Carlos Sainz for fifth this afternoon (the Italian ended the day in sixth), and Simon Jean-Joseph's 206 fended off Colin McRae to hold ninth, just five seconds behind Petter Solberg.

Andrea Dallavilla continues to lead the FIA Super 1600 Cup section in his Fiat Punto, although the 'feeder' category crews missed a couple of stages thanks to a rally-delaying accident for Daniel Carlsson's Toyota Corolla. Cedric Robert overcame an engine misfire to be the Italian's nearest challenger in the 1600cc class, ahead of Giandomenico Basso.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Gilles Panizzi is one of the fastest men on tarmac in the world - he led the Peugeot challenge after SS6 in Sanremo.
Yazeed Al Rajhi, Michal Orr (Ford Fiesta RRC, #31 Yazeed Racing)
Yazeed Al Rajhi, Michal Orr (Ford Fiesta RRC, #31 Yazeed Racing)
Yazeed Al Rajhi, Michal Orr (Ford Fiesta RRC, #31 Yazeed Racing)
Yazeed Al Rajhi, Michal Orr (Ford Fiesta RRC, #31 Yazeed Racing)
Bjorn Waldegard [Pic credit: Race Retro / www.historicmotorsportshow.com]
Yazeed Al Rajhi, Michal Orr (Ford Fiesta RRC, #31 Yazeed Racing)
Yazeed Al Rajhi, Michal Orr (Ford Fiesta RRC, #31 Yazeed Racing)
Yazeed Al Rajhi, Michal Orr (Ford Fiesta RRC, #31 Yazeed Racing)
Yazeed Al Rajhi, Michal Orr (Ford Fiesta RRC, #31 Yazeed Racing)
Jacques Villeneuve testing his Albatec Racing Peugeot [Pic credit: Gary Hawkins/Ebrey Photographic]
Jacques Villeneuve in his Albatec Racing Peugeot [Pic credit: Gary Hawkins/Ebrey Photographic]
Joan `Nani` Roma / Michel Périn. MINI ALL4 Racing. Monster Energy X-raid Team. Dakar Rally winners 2014 [Pic credit: MINI/BMW]
Joan `Nani` Roma / Michel Périn. MINI ALL4 Racing. Monster Energy X-raid Team. Dakar Rally 2014 [Pic credit: MINI/BMW]
Joan `Nani` Roma / Michel Périn. MINI ALL4 Racing. Monster Energy X-raid Team. Dakar Rally 2014 [Pic credit: MINI/BMW]
Joan `Nani` Roma / Michel Périn. MINI ALL4 Racing. Monster Energy X-raid Team. Dakar Rally 2014 [Pic credit: MINI/BMW]
Joan `Nani` Roma / Michel Périn. MINI ALL4 Racing. Monster Energy X-raid Team. Dakar Rally 2014 [Pic credit: MINI/BMW]
Joan `Nani` Roma / Michel Périn. MINI ALL4 Racing. Monster Energy X-raid Team. Dakar Rally 2014 [Pic credit: MINI/BMW]

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