After the second leg of Rallye Catalunya, Citroen team mates Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena still lead the Spanish event, the penultimate round of the World Rally Championship.

Carlos Sainz and Marc Marti experienced a tougher day and lie fourth tonight. Colin McRae and Derek Ringer maintained their seventh position and Philippe Bugalski and Jean Paul Chiaroni are ninth.

Today's leg comprised eight special stages covering 131 competitive kilometres. Weather conditions stayed dry and rather cold despite the sun.

Loeb handled the five first stages without any problems. Despite a loss of efficiency in his brakes during the last loop, he posted the fastest time on the final stage.

"As I need to keep my closest competitors at bay, I really have to attack without taking too many risks," said Loeb, "I was expecting a difficult fight and I've got one."

The day did not start the best way for Sainz though. As he had noticed slight understeering problems last night, the Madrid-based-driver changed his Xsara's set-up this morning to a softer suspension. However this did not match his expectations and he lost precious seconds on the first group of stages.

"I made some changes at the first service this morning which didn't suit my driving," he explained, "I decided to return to my first day set-up. The day was tough but the fight is a long way from being over."

With the threat of Francois Duval behind him, Sainz will relive his Corsican duel with the young Belgian tomorrow.

McRae suffered from brakes problems on the first two stages of the day. At the following service engineers worked on the car to solve them. The Scot felt more confident with his Xsara on the next tests.

Bugalski was unable to start his Xsara at the parc ferm? very early this morning. The French team-mates calmly followed the procedure permitted in these situations and changed the spark plugs. They reached the service park at Vic on time.

Team boss Guy Frequelin summed up: "It was a difficult day. But tomorrow will be tense as well, as I understand the weather forecast is uncertain, with some risk of rain in the morning."

 

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