11 February 2005
Gronholm leads in Sweden - but only by 0.2secs.
Peugeot's Marcus Gronholm leads the Uddeholm Swedish Rally at the end of day one - however the Finn has only a minute advantage, just 0.2 seconds up on Petter Solberg, following seven special stages and over 100 competitive kilometres.
Gronholm took the lead on SS3, when Solberg, who had won the first two tests, made a mistake with his suspension settings, the Finn thus powered through winning the test and taking the overall advantage.
Although Gronholm briefly lost the lead on SS6, the Finn was having none of it, and struck back on the super special, to go into tomorrow at the head of the pack.
"I'm very pleased to be in the lead, but I am not a hundred percent happy with some of the settings on my car: there are still some areas in which we can improve," he said. "Today was quite difficult as the stages in the afternoon were not in very good condition, so it became a question of looking after the tyres to make sure that all the studs stayed in. I am feeling quite confident for tomorrow, but I am sure that everybody is hoping for a bit more snow to make this a proper winter rally!"
Rallye Monte Carlo winner, Sebastien Loeb meanwhile lies third, just 10.2 seconds behind and still more than in the fight for victory, despite over-shooting a junction on SS4.
"We were lucky to go straight on at an intersection [on SS4] but we ended up with the nose in a small ditch," explained the Frenchman. "We had to reverse out and we lost 18 seconds."
Next up is Gigi Galli, who had a fantastic day in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo WRC05, winning SS6 and finishing the leg fourth, just 18.9 seconds adrift of the leader, and nearly 40 seconds up on team-mate and team leader, Harri Rovanpera, who lies eighth.
"For me our result is a big surprise! The car and tyre choice has all been perfect today and I am quite shocked by my driving, but I have been thinking about everything that can make a difference and we have to be very happy," he said. "All the time the car gets better and better with the on-going development work, but there are still two days to go and even though we are obviously very happy, I am trying to keep focused and calm because unless we finish the rally, I have not done my job or the right one for Mitsubishi."
Francois Duval is fifth in the second Xsara, one place ahead of his former team-mate Markko Martin, while Toni Gardemeister lies seventh, the lead Ford Focus, the Finn struggling to find the right set-up.
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