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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 October, 2003, 12:15 GMT 13:15 UK
Solberg clinches Corsica victory
Subaru's Petter Solberg
Subaru's Petter Solberg won the Rally of Corsica to leave the race for world championship wide open.

Solberg finished 36.6 seconds clear of Citroen's Carlos Sainz, who edged past Francois Duval on the final stage.

The result sees Sainz move three points clear at the top of the overall standings, with Solberg and Richard Burns - who finished eighth - tied in second place.

There are two rallies - in Spain and Britain - left this season.

Defending champion Marcus Gronholm of Finland was fourth, while Britain's Colin McRae battled his way to fifth.

Citroen's Sebastien Loeb - who had been in second place in the overall standings - crashed out of the race in the rain on Saturday.

Solberg, who almost missed the race after crashing his Subaru in practice, admitted he owed his victory to the hard work of his mechanics.

The most important thing now is to still be leading the championship after Spain
Carlos Sainz
"This is just incredible and what the mechanics have done is incredible. The feeling now is almost too much," said Solberg.

Subaru mechanics had to work through the night on Thursday to repair Solberg's car after it almost fell off a cliff after the Norwegian skidded and crashed into a telegraph pole during the pre-race "shakedown".

Solberg, still shaken after his accident, drove conservatively on Friday but took a grip on the race the following day when rain caused problems.

"I've been so nervous," the 28-year-old said. "I haven't slept for two days, just been drinking a lot of coffee to keep awake."

Despite narrowly missing out on second place, Duval was happy with his performance.

"It doesn't matter to me whether or not I finish second or third," he said.

"I think I've done an excellent rally under difficult conditions."

Sainz, who gambled on slick tyres on Sunday, closed to within 0.1 seconds of the Ford of Duval midway through the final day and took over second spot on the final stage.

"It all worked well for me and the team -- this rally was really tough because of the conditions," the Spaniard said.

"The most important thing now is to still be leading the championship after Spain."

1. Petter Solberg (Norway) Subaru Four hours 20 minutes and 15.3 seconds
2. Carlos Sainz (Spain) Citroen +36.6 seconds
3. Francois Duval (Belgium) Ford 41.7
4. Marcus Gronholm (Finland) Peugeot 1:09.2
5. Colin McRae (Britain) Citroen 1:26.0
6. Gilles Panizzi (France) Peugeot 1:58.7
7. Tommi Makinen (Finland) Subaru 2:25.8
8. Richard Burns (Britain) Peugeot 2:36.7
9. Philippe Bugalski (France) Citroen 2:46.8
10. Mikko Hirvonen (Finland) Ford 3:55.4




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