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Burns takes early advantage in Germany.


Richard Burns leads the eighth round of this year's FIA World Rally Championship - the ADAC Rallye Deutschland – after a largely trouble-free day at the wheel of his Peugeot 206 WRC.

The Englishman led from the start, having set the fastest times on the opening two stages this morning. Burns dropped back to second overall after a spirited charge from Ford's Markko Martin, put the Focus driver ahead after SS4. Gearbox trouble on the Estonian's car on the next stage however left him with only four forward gears and unable to fend Burns' off.

The 2001 world champion led team-mate Marcus Gronholm and Citroen's Sebastien Loeb after the superspecial stage at St Wendel, which concluded the day one action.

Driving a Citroen Xsara WRC, Loeb suffered a couple of tyre problems early in the day, but recovered to set second fastest times on stages four and five before going outright quickest on the sixth test.

Reigning champion Marcus Gronholm made a steady start to the event, admitting he was finding it hard to get fired up for today's seven stages, but he found his form through the final loop and closed in on Loeb. Today's stages took crews to the vineyards of Mosel and the tank-testing roads of Baumholder.

The Peugeots of Burns and Gronholm ran without mechanical problems today, while Gilles Panizzi's car suffered brake problems in the morning.

The combination of a bad vibration for the long fourth stage and a fast time from Ford's Martin ensured that Burns dropped to second place, before going back into the lead after SS5.

Gronholm made a steady start to the event, but moved up into third place after posting the third quickest time on the long Panzerplatte-Ost test and into second after the last stage of the day.

Running as part of the factory team for the first time since January's Monte Carlo, Panizzi felt his brake pedal was too hard. The Frenchman said he wasn't feeling any pain from the fractured rib he incurred in an accident testing for this event - he ended the day fifth.



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