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Loeb still on target in leg two.

Burns has maintained his second position, closing in on Sebastien Loeb when the leader knocked his car's steering out of line in SS12 and when he overshoot a junction in SS16.

Team-mate Marcus Grönholm charged this morning, though, setting two fastest times as he passed both Colin McRae and Philippe Bugalski to move into third overall. The Finn consolidated that place this afternoon. Harri Rovanperä missed out on the chance of a top-10 placing when he lost time with hydraulic pressure problems in stages 11, 12 and 13.

''We've tried hard to make up time today but we could obviously do with making up some more,'' noted Gronholm. ''I'm not sure what will happen tomorrow - maybe it's still possible to try to catch Richard but Sebastien looks very far ahead of us now.''

Burns added: ''It's been a reasonable day, although the conditions have obviously been tricky and tyre choice has been difficult. Sebastien's still got a bit of an advantage but the stages tomorrow are different again so we'll have to wait and see what happens tomorrow morning.''

The Ford Focus RS WRC02s of Colin McRae, Carlos Sainz and Markko Martin have run without problems. Sainz, however, had to cope with two punctures in SS14 and SS15, although Pirelli's anti-deflation mousse system prevented any serious time loss. Martin also complained of too stiff a suspension set-up for the closing pair of stages over the Baumholder ranges.

McRae and Sainz have both maintained their positions, although neither looks likely to challenge the Peugeots or the leading Citroen. McRae has consolidated his fourth place, while Sainz lost time to Solberg in the early stages, then moved up to fifth once the Norwegian and second Citroen driver Philippe Bugalski retired. The third Focus driver, Markko Martin, ended the second leg seventh overall.

Colin McRae said: ''It's been going okay today and our tyre choices haven't been too bad in the mixed conditions, but we can't really challenge the Peugeots or the Citroen on speed alone. All we can do is maintain a good pace, try to keep what pressure we can on them and see what happens.''

Carlos Sainz continued: ''It has been a difficult day, mainly because of tyre choice. We've been having to guess what the weather will do in service, but this morning we got it wrong and it was hard to read the amount of grip that was at each corner.''

Mitsubishi's remaining Lancer Evo WRC2 of Francois Delecour has been reliable and was also better suited to today's stages in the Baumholder military ranges, and this morning's rain conditions seemed to help its cause even further.

Delecour capitalised, moving up the leaderboard and even setting second fastest time on one stage. He ended leg two eighth overall.



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