Peugeot number one Marcus Gronholm continues to lead the Neste Rally Finland, despite losing fourth gear in his 307 WRC this [Saturday] afternoon.

His 35.1 second advantage may well look healthy going into the final day of competition, however the Finn will be all too aware that another 95 kilometres of competition can still throw up surprises and his first win since Argentina 2003 is far from secured.

"Today has not been an easy day, but I'm delighted to be leading," said the Finn. "We started off with a feeling that was quite all right, but still not completely perfect. Then we had the gearbox problem that was a real worry, but we actually lost less time than I thought we would.

"The last stages were fine, but I could not relax for a minute. We have to keep pushing hard until the very end."

Markko Martin, second, has been pushing hard all day; however last year's Rally Finland winner is not convinced he can overhaul Gronholm without some outside assistance!

"There is a big gap between Marcus and myself and we'll need outside help if we are to win because there's no way I can catch him unless he hits trouble," noted Martin. "I have to ensure I don't make any mistakes now and there is no point in attacking too much tomorrow. We need to regain more than 30 seconds and the most we could probably achieve is a handful."

Carlos Sainz meanwhile has moved up into third position and team-mate Sebastien Loeb has rocketed up the leaderboard into fourth from an overnight seventh. Both Citroen drivers were more upbeat today...

"We found the settings, which enabled us to be on the right pace," explained Loeb. "Barring incidents, the positions will not change."

Janne Tuohino has seemingly just not had the pace today though and has slipped to fifth, while Jani Paasonen rounds off the top six in the lead Skoda.

"It wasn't a bad day but it wasn't a good one either," said Tuohino. "The only problem was with the driver and I didn't really set any good times. I didn't find the right braking line and I don't know why. I made a few small mistakes and it just didn't go as well as yesterday."

Daniel Carlsson and Toni Gardemeister are seventh and eighth respectively, the last of the potential points scorers, while Francois Duval and Henning Solberg round out the top ten.

In the Junior WRC category Per-Gunnar Andersson leads a Suzuki 1-2-3-4. He has a 3.4 second lead over Kosti Katajamaki, while Mirco Baldacci and Urmo Aava are third and fourth.

At the end of the day 38 competitors remain, 45 having started this morning.

There were two major retirements.

Sebastian Lindholm, who started the day in second position, was the first, forced into retirement after going off the road on a 90-degree right hand corner in SS12. After taking a wheel off running along a ditch, the Peugeot 307 WRC rolled end over end.

"We ran a little wide on a 90 degree right hand corner in Ouninpohja and the back wheel dropped into a ditch," explained Lindholm. "We slid along the ditch for a little while and I thought that we would probably get away with it, but then the back wheel hit a rock and that caused the car to roll. I'm very disappointed, as we were going hard, but not crazy."

Ouninpohja took another major driver when it was re-ran as SS14, this time Kristian Sohlberg crashed into a ditch, breaking his car's suspension.

"We were a few centimeters off line when we hit a small dip in the road which sent us off into a ditch," said the Mitsubishi driver. "We then hit a stone, lost the right rear wheel and essentially took out the whole corner of the car. It then spun backwards for 100 metres and that was that. We weren't even pushing hard; we were going the same speed as we have all rally and taking no risks."

The third and final leg starts tomorrow [Sunday] at 0700hrs, when the remaining cars will leave Jyvaskyla parc ferme.

The final day will see crews travel north west of Jyvaskyla to contest four further smooth gravel stages (two repeated), and a final 95.26 competitive kilometres. The winning car is expected to cross the finish ramp at 1456hrs.