BP Ford team leader, Marcus Gronholm has blamed his lapse in concentration on the final stage of the Rallye Deutschland on Sunday on a cow that was at the edge of the road.

Gronholm began the final leg in second place overall - 12.6 seconds up on Francois Duval and he was pushing hard in SS19, in a bid to hold off the Belgian, who was on a roll after having set four quickest stage times in a row.

Going into the 18.08 kilometre-run through Moselwein 2, Marcus had a 5.6 second lead over Duval, however part way through he made a mistake and went off the road.

The incident cost him over a minute and he slipped to fourth overall, forced to make emergency repairs to his damaged Focus after the test so that he could get the car back to Trier for the finish.

Speaking at the end, the Finn explained that he had been distracted by a cow: "We were warned there was a cow near the road," he explained. "The marshal waved us through and I drove round it with no problem but it put me off and I lost concentration.

"I wasn't listening to Timo [Rautiainen]'s pace notes properly and 100m later I slid wide on a left corner. The right rear of the car hit a wall and it spun round. I finished the stage and we had to repair the suspension to drive to the finish. It's disappointing but I was happy with the performance of the new 2007 spec Focus on its first asphalt rally."

Asked about the event in more detail, Gronholm added that he also took comfort from his pace relative to Sebastien Loeb and he believes it bodes well for the other three asphalt WRC events in Spain, France and Ireland.

"We were closer to S?bastien Loeb here than on previous asphalt events and that's encouraging with three of the final six rounds on that surface," he added. "Duval pushed like hell today so I had to as well.

"Now we have to be sharper on the next round, Rally New Zealand [at the end of this month] and make no mistakes," he summed-up.