Solberg and Gronholm head-to-head.

"Eight kilometres into stage 13 we started to have a problem with the gearbox and then just before the finish the front left drive-shaft broke," he explained. "I don't remember feeling us hit anything, but it was after cutting a corner, so maybe this could have been the problem."

Of the remaining works drivers, Daniel Carlsson and Chris Atkinson round out the top ten, while Janne Tuohino is eleventh, best of the Skoda drivers, with his team-mates, Janni Paasonen and Mattias Ekstrom, 13th and 16th respectively.

Ekstrom had been running eighth, however he lost power steering mid-way through SS12 and had to struggle for two more stages, something that lost him a lot of time – around 3mins 30secs.

"I'm really disappointed about the power steering problem because I was just concentrating on driving my own rally and staying on the road," said the DTM champ. "It is impossible to drive one of these cars at anything more than walking speed when that happens - now I understand why other WRC drivers complain so much when I see them on television!"

Francois Duval is 15th in the second Citroen, after hitting a boulder in SS11, while Stephane Sarrazin is the last of the work entries, in 17th.

Thus far there have still be no works retirements.

In the Production Car WRC category, Toshi Arai continues to lead, nearly two minutes up on his nearest rival, Aki Teiskonen.

Arai for the record is also second overall in the Group N class, around 50 seconds behind Jukka Ketomaki.

The final leg tomorrow [Sunday] comprises two identical loops of three stages near Hagfors, and includes the most southerly test of the event. Organisers have shortened the first test of each loop from 22.33km to 10.17km for safety reasons.

Drivers leave Karlstad at 05.40 and return to the city for the finish at 15.04 after 89.54km of competition.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Petter Solberg / Phil Mills - Subaru Impreza WRC04
Petter Solberg talks to the media at the Swedish Rally
Marcus Gronholm / Timo Rautiainen - Peugeot 307 WRC
Petter Solberg, World RX, Argentina [Credit: World RX]
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Peter Hancock / Neil Griffiths Subaru Legacy
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Steve Deeley / Alan Proudman Peugeot 205 Gti
Paul Walker / Mark McGivern Subaru Impreza

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