BP Ford number one driver, Marcus Gronholm further extended his lead on day two in New Zealand on Saturday, despite heavy rainstorms in the morning, which made conditions atrocious.

All three tests this morning were dogged by rain and as a result the stages became increasingly muddy as more and more cars passed through the tests. Visibility was also a problem and in parts of the 18.18 kilometre Port Waikato stage drivers' could see less than 100 metres. Fog also played apart in the following test, the 13.88 kilometre-run through Klondyke. Despite all this though, Gronholm began the day in similar form to Friday, topping the times in stage six, narrowly in front of Kronos Citroen's Xavier Pons. In the next test though he eased off slightly complaining that he had the wrong tyres - he was still second fastest though, and he then completed the morning by posting the third best time in SS8.

Gronholm was back on it in the afternoon though and while it was still cloudy, the rain wasn't quite so bad. The Finn was fastest through Te Akau South, 8.2 seconds up on his team-mate, Mikko Hirvonen. In the final 'proper' test of the day, the rain returned and the ordering was reversed, although Gronholm was second best to Mikko by only 0.3 seconds.

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Marcus then finished the day by taking another stage win in the Mystery Creek super special, to take his tally for the day to three stage wins - eight in total on the event from the eleven tests run so far. He will now go into the final leg with a 50 second cushion and poised to take sixth win of the season, something that will take his personal tally of WRC victories to 24.

Mikko Hirvonen meanwhile remains second and although he slipped further back, there is no doubt both BP Ford drivers' are focused on getting to the finish, as a 1-2 result would wrap up the manufacturers' championship for the 'Blue Oval'. Mikko eased off in the morning somewhat when the conditions were tricky and 'only' set the third fastest time in Port Waikato and the fourth best in SS7 and SS8. In the afternoon though, like Gronholm, he felt more at ease, winning SS10 and going second quickest in SS9 and SS11.

Manfred Stohl now rounds out the top three in his OMV-backed Peugeot 307, having got the better of Kronos Citroen's Daniel Sordo this afternoon. Stohl conceded time to Dani this morning and thanks to the wrong tyre choice he saw the gap go up from 2.2 seconds overnight to 12.2 seconds heading into the mid-day service. The pendulum swung the other way in the two Te Akau stages however, with Stohl third and fourth quickest in SS9 and SS10, while Dani could only manage a seventh and fifth best time. The Austrian will therefore take a 16.9 second 'lead' into the final day, when the battle for the final place on the podium will be decided.

Further-down the pack, Xavier Pons continues to run in fifth, having set some very solid times - including two second quickest runs in SS6 and SS8. Unsurprisingly he was happy with his form and had little to complain about, although a collision with a rock in the first test in the afternoon slowed his progress somewhat.

Petter Solberg is sixth, although he continued to struggle and while he was fourth in the first test of the day, despite intercom problems, he could only set the tenth and ninth best times in the following two after driveshaft problems slowed the Impreza. In the afternoon, after the problem had been fixed in service D the situation improved and he was fifth and third fastest in the Te Akau tests, in part thanks to a good tyre choice.

Of the rest, Luis-Perez Companc lies seventh, despite having lost lots of time in Wairamarama [SS8] after he hit a rock and broke the rear right wheel. He limped to the finish but the incident cost him over a minute. He moved back up into the points this afternoon though after Chris Atkinson and Henning Solberg both had problems.

Atkinson was the first to have issues when he picked up a puncture in Te Akau South and then ran wide on a right-hand corner and went gently off the road. There were no spectators in the area to push him back onto the route and the Aussie was unable to jack the car up to change the flat tyre because the ground was too soft. It later emerged that he had hit a rock something that damaged the front suspension. As such he will not re-start on Sunday under the SupeRally.

Henning Solberg had issues on the following test [SS10], when he rolled his OMV Peugeot 307 - although the Norwegian got going again he dropped lots and lots of time, plummeting from seventh overall to 14th, losing a good 10-14 minutes.

Of the rest, Stobart VK's Matthew Wilson re-started this morning under the SupeRally and now lies in 16th position. He was eighth quickest in all three of the morning's stages and admitted that he was taking it 'quietly'. He continued in that same vain in the afternoon and was again eighth fastest in both SS9 and SS10, before only setting the eleventh best time in SS11.

MotoGP star, Valentino Rossi, the only other driver in a WRC car, has continued to learn and improve and was 16th fastest in SS6, 19th in SS7 and a storming tenth fastest in SS8. He continued to claw his way up the leader-board in the afternoon setting the 14th best time in SS9, the ninth best in SS10 and the seventh fastest in SS11. As such he now lies in 13th place overall in his privately entered Subaru Impreza having started the day in 24th position.

In the Production Car WRC category, Jari-Matti Latvala remains in P1, although he is now only 4.3 seconds up on Mirco Baldacci, having lost out to the Mitsubishi driver in SS9 and SS10. Latvala is also poised to finish eighth overall and score the final 'senior' WRC drivers' point. Local ace, Richard Mason completes the top three, while Nasser Al-Attiyah is fourth and all but certain to take the PCWRC title, after his only rival, Fumio Nutahara crashed out in SS8. Nutahara is expected to re-start on Sunday and as such his title hopes remain alive, although only just.

SS8 for the record decimated the PCWRC field, and after Toshi Arai was forced out this morning with gearbox problems before the day had even begun, three more drivers' went out in the 31.58 kilometre Wairamarama stage in addition to Nutahara - namely Chris West, Nigel Heath and Leszek Kuzaj. Kuzaj was especially unlucky as he slipped down a bank and retired from the leg after trying to go around West's car. Arai, Heath and Kuzaj, like Nutahara are all expected to re-start on Sunday.

The final day is the shortest of the event and covers classic Rally New Zealand territory. After leaving Hamilton at 06.15 hours local time, drivers tackle two identical loops of three tests on the coast just south of Raglan. It is the only part of the rally common with 2005 and includes two passes over the classic picture postcard Whaanga Coast test, which hugs the Tasman Sea coastline and is regarded as one of the best stages in the championship. Drivers return to Hamilton for the finish at 15.00 hours local time after 95 kilometres of competition.