Following the retirement of more than a third of the field yesterday, just 29 of the original 48 starters left the Nairobi parc ferme today to begin the second leg of the 2002 Safari Rally.

The day's route was made up of 410 competitive kilometres and five stages based around the central service point at Suswa. Leg two was run entirely on repeated stages, which meant a deteriorating road surface with even more ruts, rocks and changing terrain.

There was action early on when overnight leader Tommi M?kinen, who had led the event from the first stage, lost nearly eight minutes with a suspension problem and dropped to sixth overall. Colin McRae inherited the lead and his Ford team-mate Carlos Sainz moved to second. M?kinen later retired on CS9 and was swiftly followed by Sainz with an engine problem. Kenneth Eriksson and current world champion Richard Burns also retired - both within sight of the service area.

The first test was another pass through the punishing Kedong-Ngema section, run on leg one as CS1, but driven today in the opposite direction. On yesterday's first attempt, the gruelling terrain wreaked havoc on the cars and caused the retirements of Marcus Gronholm and Freddy Loix. This time, there were serious consequences for overnight rally leader M?kinen, who lost more than eight minutes with rear suspension-damper problems.

M?kinen completed the stage and returned to service, but the problem dropped him from first to sixth overall, 15.6secs behind Ford's Markko Martin. Citroen's Sebastien Loeb won the stage - to collect the French manufacturer's first Safari stage win - although, after problems yesterday and 40secs of penalty time, he remained ninth overall. Sainz was second-fastest, moved to second overall and closed the gap on his Ford colleague and new rally leader Colin McRae as both Fords took advantage of Makinen's problems.

CS6 was cancelled as low cloud cover prevented the spotter helicopters from flying and organisers cancelled the stage for safety reasons, before the field tackled the reverse-repeat of CS4. The stage resulted in a British 1- 2, when Richard Burns took his first Safari stage win for Peugeot with Colin McRae behind him in second.

The stage, however, brought continued frustrations for M?kinen, as the Finn had difficulty running in the dust trail of the punctured Ford of Carlos Sainz in front, and, in the limited visibility collected a slow-puncture himself after hitting a sharp rock. Some 25kms from the finish, M?kinen and co-driver Kaj Lindstrom stopped to change the wheel and, altogether the incidents cost the pair almost three minutes.

But there was more drama to come before the next stage was over. Peugeot driver Gilles Panizzi set the fastest time on CS8, with French compatriot Loeb second and Rovanpera third, but the story of the stage concerned the two drivers who didn't make it out.

The 81km Kerrerie-Serabei section proved a real giant killer - and first to go was M?kinen. The Finn was 30kms from the start line when a front suspension wishbone broke on his Subaru and he could go no further. Sainz retired shortly after, his Focus lost oil pressure due to an oil pump drive-belt failure and stopped 35kms before the finish line, and Burns was in the wars too, as his Peugeot suffered front suspension damage after a crossmember bolt sheared 500metres before the finish line, and then got stuck in the thick dust and dry soil at the entrance to the Suswa service area.

"Yesterday everything was going so well, the car was working perfectly, but everything changed this morning and then finally we lost steering after a hairpin left about 30kms in to CS8," Makinen lamented, "I don't understand what happened, but it was fortunate that the wishbone broke in a slow section and not the flat-out section. We have enough speed for the Finland Rally - we just need reliability and, to make sure the car is perfect, we will do an extra test. It's not going to be easy, however, as my home rally is always flat out."

"From the first stage yesterday, Tommi was very confident about his chances, but it all went wrong this morning and a faulty set of dampers cost us the rally," commented 555 Subaru World Rally Team principal David Lapworth, "Kenya is an extremely tough rally, and there will be few finishers this year. We have to forget about this event now. We're already thinking, talking and planning for Finland."

Ahead of the final three stages tomorrow, Colin McRae holds the lead, 2min 26secs ahead of the Peugeot of Rovanpera, with Citroen's Thomas Radstrom in third. In the Group N category, Mitsubishi driver Marcos Ligato leads, with the Subaru Impreza of Toshihiro Arai right behind in second, and Karamjit Singh in a Proton third.