Norway's Petter Solberg continues to lead the way in this 14th and final round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

The Subaru driver - who won this rally 12 months ago - also remains in a potentially title-winning position with Citroen's Sebastien Loeb in second place.

Soberg's only drama came on the final forest stage of the day when he hit a pothole one kilometre into the second run at Resolfen, damaging the suspension.

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The only other driver who arrived in Cardiff with a chance of lifting the title was Carlos Sainz and the Spaniard slid off the road on the second stage yesterday morning - setting up a straight fight between Solberg and Loeb.

Today has been a relatively straight forward day for most of the top ten, with large gaps appearing between most of the crews, they are finding themselves driving to maintain position - unwilling to risk everything in an all-out effort to make up time to the driver ahead.

The one fight which has gripped the large crowds lining the stages north of Cardiff has been between Tommi Makinen and Colin McRae. The four-times world champion Subaru driver continues to edge the Scotsman ahead of the final leg's three stages.

Both Subaru Impreza WRC2003s ran reliably through leg two.

Solberg led throughout the second leg without any problems. Last year's winner maintained that there was still some pace in reserve if Loeb - his chief rival for this year's FIA World Rally Championship drivers' crown - started to attack. Solberg's only minor trouble today was taking a tyre which was too hard for two runs through the Crychan and Halfway stages.

Makinen's biggest drama on the second leg came when he almost missed the start of the 12th stage due to being stuck in traffic. He made it with a matter of seconds to go.

Solberg said: "I'm happy with the way the day has gone, but the gap is still not big enough between me and Loeb. Anybody who knows rallying, knows that anything can happen on the stages. We should have gone for a tyre a little bit softer this morning, even on the second run at the stages it still wasn't working so well - there was a lot of mud around on the second loop. Usually during the rally and in the stages I am working with the set-up of the car - on things like the transmission - but today I am quite happy; I have just been driving, not making any changes. That was a big fright on the last stage, we were quite lucky after the shock - the car wasn't so happy on right-hand corners."

Makinen added: "The problem with almost being late for the start of the stage was not so good; okay we made it, but there was no time to get ourselves ready and prepared - we got there and had to go straight away. It's nice to have a good fight with Colin today, but the stages have been so slippery."

At Citroen meanwhile McRae suffered fading brakes once again on the first two loops of stages this morning. Loeb's car ran without mechanical fault throughout leg two. Sainz retired from the rally on the opening leg when he slid off the road.

Loeb remained in second place throughout the day. The Frenchman was slowly dropping time to the leader and was unwilling to risk dropping points in the manufacturers' championship in an all-out pursuit of Solberg.

It was a similar story for McRae, he was wary that going off the road while chasing Tommi Makinen's third position would not go down well in the team.

Loeb said: "I am still pushing as hard as I can. For the first four stages this morning, the tyres were too hard which wasn't so good, but apart from that everything has been good. I am thinking about Citroen and the manufacturers' award - I have to finish the rally to help the team. Running a little bit further back on the road has been quite difficult - the stages have been slippier than yesterday."

McRae continued: "I'm still losing time towards the end of the stages when the brakes are starting to fade a little. Apart from that it's not been a bad day. I am trying to push to get past Tommi, but it's not easy when we've been told that we have to make the finish of the event."

Peugeot's Harri Rovanpera and Freddy Loix have not suffered any mechanical problems on the second leg, while Marcus Gronholm retired the third official car after breaking the steering, when he clipped a log on stage three yesterday morning. The Bozian-run 206 of Gilles Panizzi retired with propshaft failure ahead of the first stage of the day.

Rovanpera has grown in confidence with the car throughout Saturday's stages, with his times improving throughout the day. His job was made slightly easier when fellow 206 driver Panizzi, retired on the way to the first run through Crychan this morning. Prior to that, the Frenchman had been within ten seconds of the Finn.

Loix's rally was also improving - until he went the wrong way with the car's set-up for the two stages in Margam, where he said the car was too hard. Loix's increased comfort behind the wheel of the Peugeot became clear as he made his way past the private 206 of Roman Kresta and into eighth place. He ended the day seventh.

Rovanpera said: "The car is good, now I am pushing as hard as I can on the stages. It is still a little difficult at times because there is quite a big gap in front and behind of us; that's a little bit boring, it would be nice to be having a big fight with some of the other drivers."

Loix noted: "Throughout the rally we have been making small changes and going in the right direction all of the time - until the two stages where the car was too hard. I'm happy with the way everything's going, but in some ways this is another test for me - I am still learning about what the 206 can do on the gravel stages."

Over at Ford the Focus RS WRC03 of Francois Duval - the only official Ford left in the rally - ran reliably throughout the second day of the event. Markko Martin retired on route to SS4 yesterday when the head gasket in his car went, while Mikko Hirvonen's 2002 car rolled early on leg one. The factory-backed Focus of Jari-Matti Latvala ran without mechanical fault today.

Duval moved up one position, when Panizzi retired from the event. By the end of Saturday, the Belgian was facing a challenge from his countryman Loix, who was just half a minute behind him ahead of the final day's three stages. Duval's Focus ran well throughout the day, the only problem being a minor brake problem at the end of the final forest stage of the day.

Duval said: "The day has been good for me. The transmission trouble has not come back today, everything has been okay until the end of SS14. It's a long stage and I was using the left foot for braking a lot of the time, I think this probably caused the pedal to go a little bit long. Again, I have enjoyed the second run through the stages - I've learned a little bit and made some changes to my notes, which has helped."

Latvala added: "Our biggest problem was on the final stage in Resolfen; about 13 kilometres into the stage I braked too late and slid straight on. I had to find reverse which took time - okay I didn't stall the car, but I still dropped 20 seconds. I had been braking later and later and later, then this - without this problem the time would have been really good."

Skoda Motorsport Didier Auriol's Fabia WRC ran without major mechanical fault today, while the sister car of Toni Gardemeister suffered further transmission problems into leg two.

Auriol found a set-up for the Fabia which he was happy with and stuck to it. His start to the second leg wasn't ideal, however, when he spun in the Crychan stage which opened proceedings this morning. That aside, however, the 1994 champion's day was largely without incident.

The same could not be said for his Finnish team-mate. Gardemeister's Fabia lost hydraulic pressure on the way out to the competitive action this morning, meaning he had to tackle four stages without any assistance from the hydraulically-controlled transmission. The team changed the gearbox at the lunchtime service halt - but the afternoon stages weren't much better for Gardemeister, with the wrong level of pressure going to the front differential.

Auriol said: "The spin this morning was frustrating. It would have been okay, but we dropped the front two wheels over a hole and couldn't get the car turned around. We had to wait for some spectators to come and give us a push before we could get going again - this took maybe 30 seconds or so. Other than that, it's been quite okay."

Gardemeister commented: "I'm not so interested in this rally now. It hasn't been a good day. This morning it's so hard to drive the car without the diffs, no turn-in, hard to slow it down. It was not nice. Then this afternoon, we came close to rolling on one of the stages. I'm not really enjoying it. The last run through the forest stage was a little bit better but still the transmission wasn't perfect."

Of the other entries Suzuki's Daniel Carlsson leads the FIA Junior World Rally Championship into the final day. The Swede's lead over Kris Meeke was extended when the Ulsterman suffered a throttle body problem on his Opel Corsa through the final forest stage of the day. Fiat driver Mirco Baldacci remains third.

JWRC series leader Brice Tirabassi retired his Renault Clio with engine problems, while second-placed man, and the only driver able to deny Tirabassi of the crown, Salvador Canellas is still too far down the order to trouble after suffering gearbox problems aboard his Suzuki.

Top non-official World Rally Car in the event is Manfred Stohl, the Peugeot man holding eighth overall - with fellow 206 privateer Roman Kresta fractions behind.

Rally statistics - Leg 2:

Starters: 55 crews (41 Group A and 14 Group N) started this morning.

Top retirements: Panizzi (F), Sola (E), Ginley (GB), Laukkanen (FIN), Katajamaki (FIN), Tirabassi (F).

Today - Saturday 8 November: Leg 2 started from Cardiff at 05h00 and covered 582.62km, including 138.71km on eight stages.

Tomorrow - Sunday 9 November: Leg 3 starts from Cardiff at 05h20 and covers 363.62km, including 73.86km on three stages. The first car is expected to arrive at the finish in Margam Park at 13h24.

Weather forecast: Overnight rain expected to continue into tomorrow morning.

Stage by stage summary - Leg 2:

SS8 Crychan 1 (13.05kms):
1. Solberg (N) Subaru 7m 10.6
2. Loeb (F) Citroen 7m 14.6
3. McRae (GB) Citroen 7m 15.6

Leaders after SS8:
1. Solberg (N) Subaru 1h 39m 47.8
2. Loeb (F) Citroen 1h 39m 59.8
3. Makinen (FIN) Subaru 1h 41m 25.4

SS9 Halfway 1 (18.53kms):
1. Solberg (N) Subaru 10m 15.7
2. Loeb (F) Citroen 10m 18.4
3. Makinen (FIN) Subaru 10m 20.7

Leaders after SS9:
1. Solberg (N) Subaru 1h 50m 03.5
2. Loeb (F) Citroen 1h 50m 18.2
3. Makinen (FIN) Subaru 1h 51m 46.1

SS10 Crychan 2 (13.05kms):
1. Solberg (N) Subaru 8m 15.9
2. McRae (GB) Citroen 8m 16.1
3. Loeb (F) Citroen 8m 18.5

Leaders after SS10:
1. Solberg (N) Subaru 1h 57m 11.5
2. Loeb (F) Citroen 1h 57m 31.8
3. Makinen (FIN) Subaru 1h 58m 59.8

SS11 Halfway 2 (18.53kms):
1. Solberg (N) Subaru 10m 11.0
2. Loeb (F) Citroen 10m 15.4
3. Makinen (FIN) Subaru 10m 16.3

Leaders after SS11:
1. Solberg (N) Subaru 2h 07m 22.5
2. Loeb (F) Citroen 2h 07m 47.2
3. Makinen (FIN) Subaru 2h 09m 16.1

SS12 Margam Forest (17.37kms):
1. Solberg (N) Subaru 9m 57.7
2. Loeb (F) Citroen 9m 57.8
3. McRae (GB) Citroen 10m 00.3

Leaders after SS12:
1. Solberg (N) Subaru 2h 17m 20.2
2. Loeb (F) Citroen 2h 17m 45.0
3. Makinen (FIN) Subaru 2h 19m 18.3

SS13 Margam Park 1 (12.64kms):
1. Solberg (N) Subaru 7m 08.8
2. Makinen (FIN) Subaru 7m 14.6
3. McRae (GB) Citroen 7m 14.9

Leaders after SS13:
1. Solberg (N) Subaru 2h 24m 29.0
2. Loeb (F) Citroen 2h 25m 00.3
3. Makinen (FIN) Subaru 2h 26m 32.9

SS14 Resolfen 2 (43.09kms):
1. Solberg (N) Subaru 22m 21.3
2. Loeb (F) Citroen 22m 30.8
3. McRae (GB) Citroen 22m 37.3

Leaders after SS14:
1. Solberg (N) Subaru 2h 46m 50.3
2. Loeb (F) Citroen 2h 47m 31.1
3. Makinen (FIN) Subaru 2h 49m 14.0

SS15 Cardiff Super Special 3 (2.45kms):
1. Solberg (N) Subaru 2m 05.1
2. Loeb (F) Citroen 2m 05.5
3. McRae (GB) Citroen 2m 06.4

Leaders after SS15 / Leg 2:
1. Solberg (N) Subaru 2h 48m 55.4
2. Loeb (F) Citroen +41.2
3. Makinen (FIN) Subaru +2m 25.2
4. McRae (GB) Citroen +2m 31.4
5. Rovanpera (FIN) Peugeot +4m 33.9
6. Duval (B) Ford +5m 53.7
7. Loix (B) Peugeot +6m 29.2
8. Stohl (A) Peugeot +7m 35.8
9. Kresta (CZ) Peugeot +7m 36.5
10. Pykalisto (FIN) Peugeot +8m 03.9