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  Saturday, 16 November, 2002, 21:15 GMT
Gronholm crashes out
World champion Marcus Gronholm rues the mistake that ended his dominant run in the Rally of Great Britain
Gronholm is interviewed beside his wrecked Peugeot

World champion Marcus Gronholm has crashed out while leading the Rally of Great Britain, leaving the event wide open.

Rising stars Markko Martin and Petter Solberg have moved into a breathless battle for the lead, with Martin leading Solberg by just 1.6 seconds.

Open in new window  :  GB Rally stage guide

And Gronholm's Peugeot team-mate Richard Burns is creeping up on third-placed Carlos Sainz as he works to make amends for the mistake that cost him two minutes on Friday.

Burns is 29.6 seconds behind the Spaniard's Ford, but the Englishman is losing time to Martin's Ford and the Subaru of Solberg.


There was a lot of mud and I was a little bit too fast - it was a stupid mistake
Marcus Gronholm

Meanwhile, former world champion Colin McRae endured a nightmare final stage of the day, losing 20 seconds on the short super special in Cardiff after a spin.

That dropped him to seventh overall, allowing Sebastian Loeb to leapfrog him in the placings.

But at least the Scot is still in the rally.

Gronholm bowed out after rolling his Peugeot on the 10th stage, the 10.7-mile Halfway run, at an infamous corner called Deer's Leap.

The Finn's error ended his chances of taking a record-equalling sixth victory in a season.


It depends on Richard (Burns), but I think he can win
Corrado Provera
Peugeot sports boss

He said: "It was really my mistake. I was not concentrating. We had a problem in the car with the hydraulic system and I was not using the gear-shift on the steering wheel.

"It was Tarmac in that corner. There was a lot of mud and I was a little bit too fast.

"It was stupid to make a mistake - there was no need to hurry."

Peugeot sports boss Corrado Provera said: "It's the first time that it has happened to him this year and they deserved to win from the stage times they have been setting.

"We know that Marcus is not injured, and I can imagine how sad they must feel."

Until his crash, Gronholm had dominated the rally just as he has this season, setting fastest times on all but one of the forest stages.

But his error means that either Martin or Solberg is poised to score the first win of their young careers.

Estonian Markko Martin tackles the Crychan stage in his Ford on Saturday
Martin is the new leader, with Solberg right behind
Burns, in a superior car, will hope to chase down Sainz, although Martin and Solberg appear to be too far ahead.

But Provera said he thought a victory was now within Burns' grasp.

"It depends on Richard, but I think it's possible," he said.

Mitsubishi's Jani Paasonen rolled out on the same corner as Gronholm.


Leading positions in the Rally of Great Britain:

1. Markko Martin (Estonia) Ford leading time of two hours, 13 minutes and 29.9 seconds
2. Petter Solberg (Norway) Subaru + 1.6 secs
3. Carlos Sainz (Spain) Ford + 28.1
4. Richard Burns (Britain) Peugeot + 57.7
5. Tommi Makinen (Finland) Subaru + 1:40.5
6. Sebastien Loeb (France) Citroen + 2:03.1
7. Colin McRae (Britain) Ford + 2:03.5
8. Mark Higgins (Britain) Ford + 3:00.8
9. Freddy Loix (Belgium) Hyundai + 3:12.7
10. Juha Kankkunen (Finland) Hyundai + 3:30.0

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
World champion Marcus Gronholm
"I just wasn't concentrating"
BBC Five Live's Jonathan Legard
"The champion's luck ran out"
RALLY GB STAGE GUIDE
SEASON SO FAR
TOP TEAMS AND DRIVERS


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Day Four

Day Three

Day Two

Day One

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