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Gronholm leads the way in Wales.

Didier Auriol noted: ''The car is working very well but I hope there's no fog because I don't normally go well in those conditions.''

The Subaru Impreza WRC2001 of Petter Solberg was forced to retire on this morning's first stage, when it lost fuel pressure. The cars of Richard Burns and Toshihiro Arai have been generally reliable, although Burns was troubled by a slight throttle pedal problem before the day's second service.

Markko Martin suffered from brake bias problems throughout today's opening three stages and after the Estonian crashed in SS4, he suffered an underbonnet fire that damaged the engine wiring loom. The Prodrive mechanics changed the loom, a damaged steering rack and suspension at the following service, although Martin did pick up 40s of road penalties as a result it was all academic when he finally retired on SS5 with engine troubles

Richard Burns quickly switched from all-out attack to consolidation when he saw Colin McRae had retired, and the Englishman has duly kept his Impreza in the top three throughout today's stages. His team-mates have not fared so well - Petter Solberg retired in the day's first test with fuel pressure problems, while Markko Martin struggled with brake bias glitches, then crashed. In SS5 he joined Solberg on the sidelines thanks to engine problems that could well have been related to his earlier dramas. Toshihiro Arai has struggled to cope with the Welsh forests' changeable grip levels, and the Japanese driver lies well outside the top ten as a result.

Richard Burns said: ''Our aim now is to finish in the top four but of course, it takes quite a bit of concentration to finish in the top four on a world championship rally. It's going pretty well and there's no doubt that the problems for Colin and Tommi have made things a bit easier for us but we still have to get to the finish. There's no point in trying to chase after Marcus, though. We'd have to take risks to do that.''

Toshihiro Arai noted: ''It's hard to know when you come to every corner when you're going to have grip and when you aren't.''

Meanwhile in contrast to the Subaru's of Martin and Solberg the Hyundai's Accent WRC2s of Alister McRae and Kenneth Eriksson have performed reliably today. The third car of Piero Liatti retired on the day's first stage with clutch problems, however.

Alister McRae has elected to throw caution to the wind on his final drive for Hyundai, and the Scot has charged into the points positions as a result. Even a half-spin on today's fourth stage couldn't prevent him from arriving at the day's first major service in fifth overall. Team-mate Kenneth Eriksson was slightly more cautious, but the Swede still held down a top ten placing throughout the day.

Kenneth Eriksson said: ''We haven't had any real problems but the conditions are quite difficult today. I can't do Alister's times when he's on home soil but we're still pretty competitive.''

Alister McRae added: ''We might as well have a real attack here - we've got nothing to lose. So far it's been going well - the car feels good and there have been so many incidents that we've ended up in a very good placing. But there's a long way to go.''



Related Pictures

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