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Loeb still on target in leg two.

''We've gone back to some much earlier settings - to the ones that we found a few weeks ago instead of the ones that we settled on at the pre-event test here - and it's worked,'' commented Delecour. ''I've been struggling under braking all rally and now it's much more progressive and predictable, so I've got much more confidence. That's made a big difference. I also think the wider roads today have helped, because they suit this car more than the narrow vineyard lanes.''

At Subaru Tommi Mäkinen's Impreza WRC2002 has gone well, and Petter Solberg's example also ran without problems until he damaged it terminally in an accident in SS11.

Subaru lost two more of its four entries today. Achim Mortl put his Impreza off the road on this morning's opening stage, and then Petter Solberg - who'd moved ahead of Carlos Sainz and towards the top six on the first two tests - slid off and hit a rock in SS11. The impact ripped the right-rear wheel and much of the suspension off the car, and although he reached the end of the stage he was unable to go any further.

Mäkinen, meanwhile, has rediscovered confidence in his car's handling after reverting to an older set-up this morning. The Finn has pushed his way into the top ten as a result.

Petter Solberg said: ''There was a small bump in quite a fast corner and it was enough to unbalance the car and we went off. There was a rock and I knew as soon as we hit it that the damage was bad. There was absolutely no way we could get to the following stage, let alone the one after. I was pushing, of course, but it's the first real 'moment' that I've had all event so it's disappointing for it to result in a retirement.''

Tommi Mäkinen added: ''We changed back to a set-up that we had a few months ago and it's given me a much better feeling with the car. Changing the suspension and differential settings means that the car's much easier and more comfortable for me to drive, so I can commit more. I'm glad to have at least found this, even if we're already a long way behind.''

Skoda's Kenneth Eriksson, meanwhile, hit major problems this morning. His car broke a section of its propshaft on the start line of SS9, and the veteran Swede couldn't go above 30kph before the resulting vibration became so bad that he was unable to see. He also lost boost on the same test.

Toni Gardemeister's Octavia was reliable this morning, although it developed an idling fault in the middle loop of three stages.

Gardemeister spent much of this morning battling with Markko Martin and Francois Delecour on the fringes of the top ten, but although the young Finn fought his way into ninth after the middle loop of three stages, he slid off the road in SS14. He struggled to the end of the test but was unable to continue.

Eriksson's hopes of inching into the top 10 were dealt a major blow on today's opening stage, when the Swede's Octavia broke its prop shaft on the start line. He finished the day 12th.



Related Pictures

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Yazeed Al Rajhi, Michal Orr (Ford Fiesta RRC, #31 Yazeed Racing)
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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]

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