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Loeb in command on the Rallye Deutschland.

Subaru's Petter Solberg suffered power steering failure on his Impreza WRC2002 on the fifth stage, and he was unable to fix the problem in time for the following test. In addition to grappling with steering in SS6, he also had to contend with a broken driveshaft. He has complained of differential problems for much of today's tests, too.

Mäkinen suffered a problem from virtually his first tug on the handbrake lever in SS1, because it came off in his hand. The lack of a handbrake forced the Finn to make three-point turns at many of the tighter hairpins and although he effected temporary repairs, the solution was far from ideal and he lost more time in SS2 and SS3. He also became suspicious of his gearbox when he started to jump out of gear at low speeds on road sections in the day's second group of stages.

Toshihiro Arai's Impreza was forced out of the event after SS4 with gearbox problems, while Achim Mortl did his example no good at all when he ripped off a wheel in the first stage.

Solberg has been Subaru's most consistent challenger, despite overshooting a hairpin in SS4 and suffering power steering problems and a broken driveshaft in SS5 and SS6. The young Norwegian has kept his Impreza in the points positions for much of the day but his late differential problems cost him stage time and 20 sec. penalty and he'll start tomorrow's stages in tenth.

Mäkinen lost time this morning when his handbrake lever broke, forcing him to make three-point turns at the numerous hairpins in the vineyard-based stages. The Finn dropped outside the top 10 as a result. Toshihiro Arai spun five times in the opening three stages today, and any hopes of a recovery were dashed by gearbox failure and retirement after SS4. The fourth Subaru driver, Achim Mortl, dropped right out of contention on today's first stage when he ripped a wheel off his Impreza.

Solberg said: ''It's been quite frustrating to have so many problems because we're clearly able to fight with the Fords on these stages and I've got quite a good feeling with the car. But tomorrow could be very different again.''

Over at Hyundai Freddy Loix's Accent was reliable for much of day one but on the last stage, it lapsed onto three cylinders. Armin Schwarz, meanwhile, reported a misfire through the rev range on this morning's stages. The problem was cured at the day's first proper service halt, but then the German lost his anti-lag system in the second batch of stages.

Both of Hyundai's drivers have been consistent top-10 performers though, with Loix delighting the team by posting third fastest time on one stage. His late misfire dropped him to eighth overnight, though, just over 10 seconds behind his team-mate, who occupies sixth.

''The misfire was really strange,'' noted Schwarz, ''it was through the revs and it came in when you were really asking the engine to pull from low down. You had to take your foot off the throttle before it would clear, so I'm sure it cost me some time, of course. But apart from that it's going quite well and the times of both our cars have been quite encouraging.''

Freddy Loix added: ''I really just want a full, clean day's action because we've shown today that we're competitive but we've missed out on a points placing overnight.''



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