The mountains of Liguria played host to today's opening leg of the San Remo Rally, the fifth and final asphalt rally of the season.

While the lead is held by pre-rally favourite Gilles Panizzi, Pirelli drivers Tommi Makinen (Subaru) and Markko Martin (Ford) have remained in close contention, pressurising World Championship leader Marcus Gronholm throughout the day.

Unfortunately transmission failure forced Makinen out before the final stage to join Ford's Carlos Sainz on the retirement list after losing hydraulic fluid.

Although the weather actually remained dry today there were many damp places on the stages, especially under the trees, where the conditions remained unchanged throughout the day.

For example, on today's opening stage there was 40% humidity on the road surface and that percentage remained this afternoon. Pirelli crews have used the RX5 tyre exclusively today.

Colin McRae (Ford-Pirelli) was delayed on the first group of stages today when he hit a wall and damaged a tyre. The incident (repeated again on the first of the next pair of stages!) affected the handling of his Ford Focus but, thanks to Pirelli's EMI anti-deflation system, the time loss was kept to a minimum.

Tomorrow's stages are mainly reverse-runs of today's, bringing the possibility of drivers having dragged dirt onto the road into what will now be braking areas.