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Sainz set for Turkish success?


As the third round of the FIA World Rally Championship progressed into its longest leg with stages to the west of the event's base in Kemer, Carlos Sainz moved his Citroen Xsara WRC to the head of the field on the tenth stage.

Previous incumbent of the number one spot Harri Rovanpera, suffered suspension failure after a collision with some rocks two kilometres into the Myra test.

Rovanpera had been 22.8 seconds ahead of Sainz when they went into the stage, but the Finn's problem cost him close to eight minutes and his place in the top ten. He would retire from the event after the day's final stage.

Sainz was on fine form through the second leg, fastest on three of the day's seven stages to build a lead of 1m 19.5s by the close of play. Richard Burns enjoyed a similarly trouble-free day, to climb four places into the runners-up spot, with Ford's Francois Duval maintaining his leg one pace to take third. The Belgian had lost his podium position to Makinen on the second stage of the day, but suspension damage dropped the Subaru driver back down the field. Colin McRae moved in the opposite direction to hold fourth ahead of Gilles Panizzi and Toni Gardemeister.

Kosti Katajamaki took over the lead of the FIA Junior World Rally Championship category in his Volkswagen, following a power steering problem late in the day for Daniel Carlsson.

The two remaining Citroen Xsara WRCs of Sainz and McRae ran reliably. Sebastien Loeb retired yesterday morning when his car ran out of fuel.

Despite his status as rally leader, Sainz was refusing to make any predictions about a possible 25th FIA World Rally Championship win. The Spaniard had set a blistering time through SS10, beating the rest of the field by 25 seconds. On the next stage, however, he suffered a puncture and an overshoot at one junction. Sainz ends Saturday's stages with a 1m 19.5 second advantage over Richard Burns.

McRae was happier with the set-up of his car, having stiffened the suspension. McRae spun in stages eight and ten and admitted he was backing off in some places, particularly towards the end of SS11.

Sainz said: ''I'm still not 100 percent confident in the car, but it is getting better with every kilometre. Tomorrow there is five stages, so we will see where we are then. There's not a lot more for me to say, except that I'm happy now.''



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