Mitsubishi Motors drivers Juha Kangas and Daniel Carlsson are locked in combat in a thrilling battle for supremacy in the Production Car class on the Swedish Rally, the first round of the series in the 2002 FIA World Rally Championship.

Both men are driving Mitsubishi Carisma GTs and lead a host of fellow Mitsubishi competitors, who not only top the championship classification after two of the rally's three legs, but hold 10 of the first 11 places in the category.

Competitors have faced exceptionally difficult conditions in the second leg of the Karlstad-based rally, as higher temperatures and rain have replaced the earlier snow.

However, most of the route is still frozen and drivers have had to deal with standing water and gravel, as well as snow and ice. There has been no margin for error and the least mistake has been punished severely on such a competitive rally. The action has thrilled vast crowds, quite undeterred by the hostile conditions.

Rivalry between Swedes and Finns is traditionally intense and Juha Kangas struck a blow for Finland in the second leg, driving his Carisma GT superbly to pull ahead of Carlsson.

"The car has been really good and we have attacked a bit today. It's not easy though. The grip isn't very consistent and there's a still long way left tomorrow," Kangas warned.

Carlsson is one of Sweden's most promising talents and has proved his worth by trading seconds with Kangas throughout the rally in his Carisma GT, narrowing the gap to just four seconds after two days.

"Kangas is driving very fast and it won't be easy to catch him, but our car has quite low gearing too and that has been a disadvantage on the really fast stages", Carlsson said.

Third belongs to top Swede Kenneth Backlund, despite spinning his Carisma GT and getting a puncture, while another Finn, Kristian Sohlberg, holds fourth in the class in his Carisma GT and has a secure lead in the World Championship standings.

Promising Swede Oscar Svedlund is fifth, while Subaru Impreza driver Toshihiro Arai is sixth - the only non-Mitsubishi driver in the Group N top ten.

Marko Ipatti is seventh and Italy's Alex Fiorio is gaining confidence in eighth. A misfire cost local star Stig-Olov Walfridson the category lead in SS8 he now lies ninth while Tord Linnerud rounds off the top ten.

Overall Group N after SS11 - Leg two:

1.Juha KangasMitsubishi Carisma GT2hrs 23mins 12.2secs2.Daniel CarlssonMitsubishi Carisma GT+00mins 04.1secs3.Kenneth BacklundMitsubishi Carisma GT+01mins 18.3secs4.Kristian SohlbergMitsubishi Carisma GT+01mins 42.3secs5.Oscar SvedlundMitsubishi Carisma GT+02mins 14.3secs6.Toshihiro AraiSubaru Impreza 555+02mins 23.1secs7.Marko IpattiMitsubishi Carisma GT+03mins 13.6secs8.Alessandro FiorioMitsubishi Carisma GT+03mins 20.5secs9.Stig-Olov WalfridsonMitsubishi Carisma GT +03mins 37.5secs10.Tord LinnerudMitsubishi Carisma GT+04mins 44.3secs