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Martin wins in Finland.


Ford driver Markko Martin has taken his second victory of the year on the ninth round of this year's FIA World Rally Championship - the Neste Rally Finland.

He started the day with more than a minute's advantage over Peugeot driver Richard Burns, who was hit by a wheel-bearing failure in the closing stages of yesterday.

Just one second covered second, third and fourth places at the start of the day, and a furious battled raged right up until the final stage. At the last minute, Petter Solberg snatched second place from Richard Burns. Carlos Sainz finished fourth.

Burns extends his lead over Sainz in the drivers' championship by one point. Peugeot maintains its lead of the manufacturers' series, although the gap to Citroen in second is reduced by four points.

The Peugeot 206WRC of Richard Burns ran without mechanical problems today. Both the other Peugeots retired yesterday. Harri Rovanpera was out after going off the road on SS12. Marcus Gronholm was forced to retire from the lead after SS14, as a result of broken suspension and a lost front wheel.

Burns started the day in second place, but dropped to third after the opening stage of the day when he was passed by Subaru driver Petter Solberg. He re-took second after setting fastest time on SS20, but Solberg took the place back off him on the final stage of the day, SS23.

''It's been a good rally, and I was driving like crazy, but I didn't want to take too many risks today. To come away with six points and still leading the championship is superb,'' noted the Brit, ''I was trying very hard to beat Petter today and he was trying very hard to beat me. It was a good fight!''

At Citroen the two remaining Xsaras of Sebastien Loeb and Carlos Sainz ran without major mechanical problems. Colin McRae retired yesterday in an accident on SS16.

Sainz started the day in third place but dropped to fourth after being passed by the Subaru of Petter Solberg on today's first stage. He broke a left-rear damper on SS19, which caused him to drop time on the following stage as well.

Loeb's mission today was to keep the car on the road and secure a strong fifth-placed finish, which he succeeded in doing.



Related Pictures

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Markko Martin and Michael Park celebrate victory on the Rally Finland along with the rest of the Ford team
Ford`s Markko Martin celebrates victory on the Neste Rally Finland
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