Subaru's Petter Solberg has re-gained his overnight lead on the Rally GB following SS4 and SS5 today, the Norwegian now leads championship rival, Sebastien Loeb, who is second by 7.8 seconds.

Solberg immediately hit back in SS4, Rheola 1 [32.58 km], after Loeb has gone top on today's first two tests, to take the fastest time and make it two wins all for the duelling pair. Taking 8.5 seconds from his Citroen rival, the Norwegian snatched the overall lead from Loeb and finished the test with a 4.7 second advantage.

Tommi Makinen was third fastest, demonstrating the competitive pace of the Subaru / Pirelli combination through the slippery, difficult conditions, and Colin McRae was fourth.

Ford's Markko Martin failed to even make the start. Having left service on time, the engine in his Focus continued to overheat, leaving the Estonian no option but to pull over on the road section, and out of the rally.

Skoda's Toni Gardemeister also hit problems. The Finn collected a 2 minute 10 second penalty for leaving the scheduled service 13 minutes late, after mechanics used extra time to replace his Fabia's starter motor.

In the next test, SS5 - Resolfen 1 [43.09 km] - Solberg and Loeb were in a class of their own, finishing 18.8 seconds clear of the rest of the field. It was Solberg though who had the edge and, despite clipping a pole mid-test, was fastest to take his third win of the event.

"No problems at all, everything is going according to the plan," said Solberg, "The car is going well even though the conditions are quite difficult and still very slippery. The roads are still very muddy and I think it's better to be running as one of the leading cars. There's a lot of talk that Loeb is fighting for the manufacturers title now, and that he's not going to push me for the Drivers', but come on, whatever Loeb says I think he's here to win. So do you really think I'm going to relax?"

Loeb was 3.1 seconds slower for second, while Makinen was third. Clearly enjoying the test's myriad of slippery corners and numerous surface changes on his last event as a full-time WRC driver, the Finn set a competitive time, ahead of McRae, Harri Rovanpera and Gilles Panizzi.

"That was okay, no problem," said Tommi at service C, "The rear suspension is a little too soft and the car's rolling a bit when I come out of a corner. On the long corners especially, it's sliding too much. But, it's quite okay and I'll keep trying to go as fast as possible."

Although conditions remained dry, the stage became increasingly slippery for those further down the order, as more cars passed over the hard-based track and 'polished' the surface.

There were no more leading retirements in SS5, and after the finish, cars returned to Felindre for the third service of the day.

The action will now resume at 1548 local time with SS6, Rheola 2 [32.58 km].

 

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