Solberg leads Rally of Japan

Updated: 25 February 2007 09:08 IST

Subaru's world champion Petter Solberg set a blistering pace to pull clear of his rivals after the second day of the inaugural Rally of Japan on Saturday.

Solberg leads Rally of Japan
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Hokkaido:

Subaru's world champion Petter Solberg set a blistering pace to pull clear of his rivals after the second day of the inaugural Rally of Japan on Saturday. Day 2 of the Rally was made up of 11 stages involving 120 kilometres of competitive driving. Solberg has been in similar positions before this season, though, and seen his victory chances ruined by accidents or mechanical failure. His tally of two wins this season belies the fact that Solberg and Subaru have consistently been the fastest partnership all year and the Norwegian's priority now must be to reach Sunday's finish line intact. Solberg has a one minute 9.2 seconds advantage over Citroen's world championship leader, Sebastien Loeb, who has the luxury of a 29-point lead in the title race. Loeb spent most of the day fighting off the challenging Marcus Gronholm of Finland. It was an intriguing battle that swung both ways until the Finn's brakes got too hot and he had to ease off. In fact, Ford's Markko Martin eventually moved into third place - a further 31 seconds behind Solberg - despite complaining of poor pace notes. Martin himself had been locked in a tussle with Spaniard Carlos Sainz for many of the stages. Sainz is usually very comfortable in new events, while Martin enjoys the feel of the loose gravel. Both struggled to get the better of each other but while Sainz held the upper hand early in the day, it was the Estonian who fought back and ended it in third place. Gronholm slipped to fifth after losing more than a minute on a disastrous stage 13, while Ford driver Francois Duval is sixth, Subaru's Mikko Hirvonen seventh - despite a one-minute penalty - and Peugeot's Harri Rovanpera eighth.(AP)

Topics : Formula 1
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