Ford's venture down under got worse this evening, as Carlos Sainz joined team-mate Colin McRae on the sidelines after just one day of action.

Unlike the Scot, who retired with mechanical problems, however, Sainz was excluded from the event for deliberately running slowly through a stage in an attempt to improve his starting position. The Spaniard was not alone in his actions but, having been very outspoken about the revised seeding procedure in Australia, has been severely punished for his 57th place finish on stage nine.

Rally stewards disqualified Sainz under article 19.9 of the official rules, claiming he stopped his Focus WRC in a prohibited area between the marker boards and the flying finish of the day's penultimate stage.

The overnight seeding positions were to have been based on overall placings after the 4.42km Atkins stage and, in bizarre fashion, several of the leading runners - including overall championship leader Marcus Gronholm - all slowed on the stage in order to avoid being among the first runners in the morning. In so doing, it means that the new leaders will have to 'sweep' the liberal covering of loose gravel from the roads, ensuring a much cleaner and therefore faster run through the stages.

"It's strange that, on a world championship rally, we find ourselves in the position of deliberately losing time to gain a better running position tomorrow," Sainz sighed, "The fastest drivers are being penalised. Last year on this rally the quickest drivers were able to choose their re-start positions for the following day. It worked well then but the idea is not being used this year."

The Spaniard's demise means that Ford has lost both of its nominated scoring cars from the event, while series leaders Peugeot, and long-time rivals Subaru, still have both of theirs in the running. Subaru's Juha Kankkunen leads from Peugeot's Francois Delecour after ten stages, with championship favourites Gronholm and Richard Burns slightly further back in the order.

Sainz would have restarted day two in eighth place, but Ford's leading, and sole, runner, is now the inexperienced Tapio Laukkanen in sixth place.