Peugeot's Marcus Gronholm will head into the final two tests of the Neste Rally Finland, leading Markko Martin by 41.9 seconds, and surely set to record his first WRC victory since Argentina 2003, and the first with the new 307 WRC.

Putting yesterday's gearbox troubles behind him, Gronholm was 3.8 seconds faster than his closest rival, Martin, through the first test of the day - Jukojarvi 1, ending the stage by extending his lead.

However, the fastest man was young Subaru driver Mikko Hirvonen. Although ineligible to score Championship points following his retirement in Leg one, the Finn charged through the 22.31km test and demonstrated the competitive pace of the Impreza WRC2004 while increasing his experience of the specialist stages.

His team-mate Petter Solberg, another re-entrant, was third fastest.

Skoda driver Toni Gardemeister was ninth fastest to move up from eighth to seventh overall.

After the finish, crews moved to the start of SS20.

The fastest stage of the 2003 FIA World Rally Championship (Martin recorded an average speed of 133.7kph in 2003), Kruununpera [SS20] includes typical Finnish long crests and sixth gear straights. This year, the stage had been extended with a new final section being added.

Reigning World Champion Petter Solberg was quickest and notched up his sixth stage win of the event, while Gronholm was second fastest, Carlos Sainz third and Hirvonen fourth.

Seeking to make up time following his heavy landing on leg two which flattened his Focus' exhaust and stifled its engine power, Francois Duval was eighth fastest. That was enough to move the Belgian into the same position overall and into the points.

After the finish, crews returned to Jyvaskyla for the penultimate service.

Both tests will now be repeated to conclude the event. The first starts at 12.28 hours local time [10.28 hours British time].