Winner of the last round of the FIA World Rally Championship in Italy, Citroen's Sebastien Loeb continued where he left off in Corsica today.
The Frenchman ended the day with a 3.9-second advantage over Ford Focus RS WRC03 driver Francois Duval. Loeb was concerned about the close proximity of the Belgian – and the other Ford of Markko Martin.
Martin had led the event through stages two and three, but a time-consuming spin on the fourth test dropped him back down the order. Fastest times on the two remaining tests of the day elevated the Estonian back into fifth spot, 18.5 seconds behind the leader.
Marcus Gronholm was third at the end of the leg after a trouble-free run in his Peugeot, with Duval's team-mate Carlos Sainz fourth.
Today consisted of six stages – two loops of three – and at the end of the 97 kilometres of competitive action, just under half a minute separated the top seven crews. All of the stages ran in dry conditions, although the Vico – Pont du Liamone test was dirtier than most on the second run through.
The factory Citroen Xsara WRCs of Loeb and Sainz ran without mechanical trouble today, while Colin McRae suffered brake and transmission trouble and Philippe Bugalski struggled with a throttle problem for the first three stages.
Loeb and Sainz both made strong starts to the event, running at the sharp end of the field throughout leg one. Loeb admitted his car was oversteering too much through the morning loop, while Sainz's day was without any problems.
McRae was struggling to slow his Xsara WRC down on stages two and three this morning. The Scotsman was running a transmission set-up close to the one which his team-mate Loeb had used on the last round in Sanremo, but it didn't work for McRae in Corsica. McRae's Xsara was locking its brakes too easily throughout the day.
Loeb commented: "We made some adjustments to the differentials at the lunchtime service today, the car felt better in the afternoon. This is a big race, very close. It's been really hard work out there, the Ford's are so close, there's no room for a mistake."