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Loeb pulls out slim lead on day two.

McRae noted: ''This weather has been a bit of a nightmare today. I wish it would just rain, if it's going to rain - it's the inconsistency that's the problem. Choosing a tyre in conditions like this is a complete lottery. We're going into stages on slick tyres and then, the rain comes; at the end of SS11 we were doing 70mph in top gear and the wheels were spinning - that's just dangerous.''

Sainz added: ''This is really not my favourite rally. Today I was glad to get out of Baumholder for the last time, but then again I think all of the drivers feel the same way. This event is not going very well for us, it's not one big problem - it's just one of those things. Some times we have rallies that go this way.''

At Peugeot Richard Burns' 206 WRC suffered a vibration on the suspension, while a change of pads cured Gilles Panizzi brake trouble. Gronholm's Peugeot ran reliably through the second leg.

Burns dropped back from the lead to become embroiled in a battle for third place, while Gronholm moved into a fight with Citroen's Sebastien Loeb for first position. Burns felt the handling of his car wasn't as good as yesterday and he slipped to fifth by the of the leg.

It was the reverse for Gronholm, he felt a lot more positive than in the opening leg. Panizzi dropped time after he took the wrong tyres for stages 12 and 13, using an intermediate tyres on a loop where the stages were largely dry.

Gronholm said: ''Today is better for me, but the weather is not good for the stages. We thought the first stage this morning was very slippery - but then the next stage was even worst, terrible - it is so hard to get the right tyres for this. Later today we took a cut in the tyre when we didn't need one, it all costs time.''

Burns commented: ''I don't know where the time has gone today. The car doesn't feel right, it feels a lot more bumpy - I think it's something on the suspension, but I don't know. Yesterday the car was great, I had lots of confidence and now it feels more like last year's car.''

Panizzi, who ended the day eighth, added: ''The team changed the pads for me, this felt much better - I had more feeling from the car now. I have more confidence when the brakes are like this. Taking the wrong tyre was bad, though, the tyres were really moving about a lot.''

At Ford meanwhile both the Focus RS WRC03's of Markko Martin and Francois Duval ran without mechanical fault today - as did the 2002-specification car of Mikko Hirvonen.

Estonian driver Martin powered his way back up the leaderboard. He was fastest on three of the first four stages of the day. By the lunchtime service, Martin had transformed his overnight tenth position into fifth place. From there he met with more resistance, fighting with British pair Colin McRae and Richard Burns for third place.



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Yazeed Al Rajhi, Michal Orr (Ford Fiesta RRC, #31 Yazeed Racing)
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Jacques Villeneuve in his Albatec Racing Peugeot [Pic credit: Gary Hawkins/Ebrey Photographic]

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