The final lap of the daunting Baumholder tank training area saw little change to the leaderboard on this tenth round of the FIA World Rally Championship with all three Ford Rallye Sport drivers maintaining their top ten positions over the two speed tests.

Colin McRae and Nicky Grist were fifth fastest through a repeat of the 35.56km Panzerplatte and ninth quickest in the 20.87km Erzweiler to remain in fourth in their Focus RS World Rally Car.

They lie 32.2sec ahead of the similar car of Carlos Sainz and Luis Moya who were fifth and sixth quickest through the two stages.

Team-mates Markko M?rtin and Michael Park are still eighth and engrossed in a thrilling battle with Francois Delecour who lies 2.6sec ahead of their Focus RS.

"The three cars in front of us are having a fight so there's the potential for one of them to trip up," said McRae. "Our plan is to hold station and see what happens to them."

Sainz punctured both the front and rear left tyres on Panzerplatte. With only one spare allowed in the car, he changed the front rubber and tackled the Erzweiler test relying on Pirelli's anti-deflation system to keep the rear tyre inflated. It worked superbly and the Spaniard had no problems at all during the 20.87kms.

M?rtin's Focus RS was fitted with new shock absorbers in service after the 26-year-old Estonian reported that the suspension felt too stiff through the two tests.

"It felt OK on the smooth sections but there weren't too many of those. Conditions were quite dry, with only a few damp corners but the roads were quite dirty in places," he said.

Germany's Armin Kremer and Dieter Schneppenheim delighted the home fans by climbing into tenth in their Focus RS following the retirement of Toni Gardemeister (Skoda) who rolled 5km from the end of Panzerplatte, breaking his car's radiator.

All that remains of today's second leg before returning for the overnight halt in Trier is a spectacular stage through the streets of St Wendel on a former motorcycle track.