Peugeot driver Marcus Gronholm has finished the second leg of the Monte Carlo Rally in fourth place with the all-new 307 WRC, after a typically challenging day on the season-opener. His team-mate Freddy Loix is in a strong sixth place, after refining the set-up of his 307 WRC throughout the leg.

Today's action was curtailed by the cancellation of two special stages out of five. The opening stage of the day was neutralised after an accident blocked the road, while the penultimate stage was omitted due to spectator problems.

As always, the constantly changing weather made tyre choice a headache. Some ice and snow in the morning later gave way to fog and slush - circumstances that caught out even the most experienced drivers and caused two factory retirements.

The Peugeot 307 WRCs of Gronholm and Loix ran without mishap all day, with just a precautionary gearbox change for Marcus before the final loop of stages. Both drivers managed to steer clear of major trouble, although Gronholm lost time by sliding off the road for 40 seconds at the end of SS9.

"It was a very slow but very slippery corner," said Gronholm. "You could have got around it quicker by walking, but we just understeered off. The reason why we lost the time was that it took a while to find reverse gear. I have to say I've not really enjoyed today. There was a lot of fog with conditions changing all the time. It's not the sort of rallying I like, but at least the car has coped very well with the difficult conditions. I don't want to make any predictions about tomorrow because you can never tell in Monte Carlo."

Loix found more confidence in his 307 WRC today, setting a third fastest stage time and moving up from ninth to sixth. The Belgian adjusted some differential settings and made sensible tyre choices to end the day firmly in the points.

"We found some better differential settings that gave me more confidence in the car on the afternoon stages," said Loix. "I was quite disappointed yesterday but today is an improvement. The car has been very good but for the last stage I chose tyres that were too soft. I was expecting the weather to be colder, but in fact it was warming up and the tyres lost their efficiency."

Tomorrow's final leg of the Monte Carlo Rally starts at 0730 from Monaco, and takes in four decisive stages. The highlight is two runs over the legendary Col de Turini, which is typified by an enormous variety of surface conditions. Such is the famed unpredictability of the Monte Carlo Rally that the winner will not be decided until the very last metre, with the finish ceremony taking place at 1430.



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