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Gronholm in front in Sweden on day one.


Ford team leader, Marcus Gronholm has ended the opening day of the Uddeholm Swedish Rally - the second round in the 2006 FIA World Rally Championship, on top.

Gronholm began the event in dominant style winning the opening two tests, to build a 19 second lead. However a spin in SS3 damaged his confidence, and although he was second quickest through SS4, SS5 and SS6, he couldn't match Sebastien Loeb, who cut back the deficit to 10.2 seconds going into Saturday's second leg.

Loeb was quickest through three of the days' tests, his only problem coming between SS1 and SS2 after the bonnet came loose on his Citroen Xsara WRC and hit the windscreen. As a result he checked in late to the time control before SS2, picking up a 10 second penalty. Without it he would have been just 0.2 seconds off Gronholm tonight...

Gigi Galli completes the provisional podium, the Italian flying in his privately entered Mitsubishi Lancer WRC, even setting the best time in SS3. In addition he also managed one third quickest time and three fourth quickest times and is around 40 seconds behind Loeb.

Daniel Carlsson also showed the potential of the Mitsubishi and after setting the pace in Thursday's shakedown proved it was no 'flash in the pan' by ending the day fourth.

Mattias Ekstrom meanwhile featured towards the front of the pack, the DTM racer going well on his home event. He ended the day fifth in his Red Bull backed Skoda Fabia WRC, ahead of OMV Peugeot Norway WRT duo, Manfred Stohl and Henning Solberg, in sixth and seventh respectively.

Kristian Sohlberg is on course for the final point for the Red Devil Atolye Kazaz squad, while Janne Tuohino and Thomas Radstrom round out the top ten.

Furtherdown the pack, Kosti Katajamaki went well on his debut in the Ford Focus WRC, entered by the Stobart VK team and is 11th. Daniel Sordo also impressed and is 4.3 seconds up on Xavier Pons, who is 13th and he is also in a Kronos Racing Citroen Xsara WRC.

Of the other manufacturer entries Matthew Wilson ended the day 16th, while Petter Solberg was 21st, Andreas Aigner 22nd, Chris Atkinson 26th and Mikko Hirvonen 33rd.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Marcus Gronholm / Timo Rautianen - Ford Focus RS WRC
Sebastien Loeb / Daniel Elena - Kronos Citroen Xsara WRC
Gigi Galli / Giovanni Bernacchini - Mitsubishi Lancer WRC
Jari Ketomaa (FIN) Kaj Lindstrom (FIN), Ford Fiesta R5, WRC2 winners
Jari Ketomaa (FIN) Kaj Lindstrom (FIN), Ford Fiesta R5, WRC2 winners
Nasser Al Attiyah, Giovanni Bernacchini (Ford Fiesta RRC, #40), WRC 2 World Champions
Jari Ketomaa (FIN) Kaj Lindstrom (FIN), Ford Fiesta R5, WRC2 winners
Jari Ketomaa (FIN) Kaj Lindstrom (FIN), Ford Fiesta R5, WRC2 winners
Nasser Al Attiyah, Giovanni Bernacchini (Ford Fiesta RRC, #40), WRC 2 World Champions
Nasser Al Attiyah, Giovanni Bernacchini (Ford Fiesta RRC, #40)
Nasser Al Attiyah, Giovanni Bernacchini (Ford Fiesta RRC, #40), WRC 2 World Champions
Mathew Wilson (GB) Scott Martin (GB), Ford Fiesta RRC
Mathew Wilson (GB) Scott Martin (GB), Ford Fiesta RRC
Martin Prokop, Michal Ernst (Ford Fiesta RS WRC, #21 Jipocar Czech National Team)
Mathew Wilson (GB) Scott Martin (GB), Ford Fiesta RRC
Mathew Wilson (GB) Scott Martin (GB), Ford Fiesta RRC
Henning Solberg, Ilka Minor (Ford Fiesta WRC, #16)
Robert Kubica,  Maciej S zczepaniak (Ford Fiesta RS WRC, #10 RK M-Sport World Rally Team)

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