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Last Updated: Sunday, 7 September, 2003, 06:50 GMT 07:50 UK
Solberg snatches victory
Solberg is up to joint second in the standings
Norway's Petter Solberg drove his Subaru to a thrilling win over Frenchman Sebastien Loeb in Rally Australia on Sunday.

Solberg beat his Citroen rival by 26.6 seconds to boost his hopes of clinching the World Rally drivers' crown for the first time.

It his Solberg's second win in the 2003 series, following his success in the Cyprus event, and lifted him to joint second with Spaniard Carlos Sainz in the world standings.

Both have 48 points, seven behind leader Briton Richard Burns, who finished third in Australia in his Peugeot.

"That's another third place, which is perfect," said Burns. "We're still at the top."

Solberg began the day five seconds behind Loeb but snatched a 0.6 seconds lead on the first leg of the final day.

Loeb briefly reasserted his authority after the next stage but Solberg sizzled on the penultimate leg, forging to an eight seconds advantage as Loeb found the going tough on a rain-affected surface.

Markko Martin, winner of last month's Rally of Finland and fourth overnight, was disqualified before the start of the final day.

He was excluded after using a rock to help wedge a spare tyre into place, in breach of the sport's rules.

Martin's Ford team boss Malcolm Wilson told reporters. "It is a blow to our world championship hopes but a decision that we have accepted without appeal.

"Markko and (co-driver) Michael (Park) acted on the spur of the moment in an effort to retain the spare wheel which was not properly secured."


1. Petter Solberg (Norway) Subaru 3 hours, 32 minutes 07.1 seconds
2. Sebastien Loeb (France) Citroen 26.6 seconds behind
3. Richard Burns (Britain) Peugeot 1:53.0
4. Colin McRae (Britain) Citroen 2:30.7
5. Carlos Sainz (Spain) Citroen 2:37.2
6. Tommi Makinen (Finland) Subaru 3:01.5
7. Harri Rovanpera (Finland) Peugeot 4:03.9
8. Freddy Loix (Belgium) Hyundai 7:00.7
9. Mikko Hirvonen (Finland) Ford 7:10.6
10. Francois Duval (Belgium) Ford 7:46.2




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