Peugeot Sport's Marcus Gronholm continues to lead in Cyprus at the end of the second leg today [Saturday], the Finn having extended his advantage to 22.9 seconds.

Gronholm was delighted with his form, especially as he doesn't particularly like the event.

"It's been a very good day," he noted. "This is not my favourite sort of rally - the roads are very slow, twisty and hot. But the car has felt good throughout the event and I hope we can hang onto our advantage tomorrow and get win number one for the 307.

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"This rally is so tricky that you can never take anything for granted until the finish, so tomorrow we have to try not to make any mistakes, and look after the car as much as possible. At the same time we have to make sure we keep up a good pace to stay in front - it's not easy."

Sebastien Loeb meanwhile has powered up into second in the lead Citroen while Markko Martin is hot on his heels in third, delighted with the performance of the Focus in these conditions.

Despite a scare in SS9, when he bent a steering arm, the Estonian, reckoned it was a 'excellent' day.

"It's been another good day for us," he noted. "We've tried really hard and we've managed well, apart from the problem with the steering arm [in SS9]. But it's been a long day with not so many competitive kilometres. The stages were quicker than yesterday but it's hard to regain big chunks of time here. I can only take back a few seconds here and there.

"I'm pushing hard and hopefully luck will be with us, but luck is the thing we can't control. Tomorrow we'll just try to keep the car in one piece and see what happens. I wouldn't be surprised if people have problems because the roads are very rough. There are some big boulders in the second stage in particular. That's where we rolled a couple of years ago so I don't want to do that again!"

Carlos Sainz has climbed one place up the leaderboard into fourth, while Harri Rovanpera is now fifth, having dropped from his overnight second after intermittent problems with second gear and penalties incurred in service with a gearbox change.

"It was a real pity that we had the problem," noted Harri, "as otherwise I'm confident that we had the speed to hang onto second place. Although I'm disappointed, everything is not yet lost. Tomorrow we have an important job to do, as we have to try and score the maximum points possible."

Mikko Hirvonen rounded off the top six in the first Subaru.

"We made a few changes to the car today and loosened the differentials a little, which seems to have helped a lot," noted Hirvonen, "I've got lots more confidence in the high-speed sections although I still have work to do on the slow twisty parts. The roads have been good this afternoon and I've enjoyed driving on them much more than yesterday."

Team-mate and reigning World Champion Petter Solberg has powered to eighth after setting a blistering pace and claiming three fastest times in the five stages that ran competitively - notional times were given to all the leading crews in SS11 after the stage was cancelled for safety reasons.

"It's been a fun day," said the Norwegian, who is now really 'testing' for the next two events, "A bit disappointing perhaps that the stage was cancelled (SS11) as I think I could have taken about a minute out of the leaders, but generally I'm very happy. I'm enjoying driving in these conditions. The feeling is good and I've had no problems at all. Perhaps I'll get on the podium tomorrow. Who knows? Everything's possible!"

Of the rest meanwhile Janne Tuohino heads the 'privateers' in seventh, in his Ford, while Henning Solberg and Alister Ginley completed the top ten.

In total 24 cars finished today's leg, a further seven retiring, including both 'works' Mitsubishi's of Gilles Panizzi and Kristian Sohlberg.

Team boss Sven Quandt was philosophical. "The further we go the more knowledge we gain, and the only thing I can say is that we learn from that," he noted. "We sorted some of the issues we have had in previous rallies, but we know we still have a long way to go. We are missing test kilometres and we have to continue working on the problems."

Tomorrow [Sunday]'s final leg covers another two loops of three stages and is the shortest, although the rough and rocky 95.34 competitive kilometres are sure to throw up more surprises for the remaining crews.