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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 February 2007, 18:26 GMT
Gronholm stretches lead in Sweden
Marcus Gronholm
Gronholm is on course for a fifth Rally of Sweden title
Finland's Marcus Gronholm claimed five stage wins in the Rally of Sweden on Saturday to strengthen his hold on the race with just one day to come.

The Ford Focus driver, who has won this event four times already, leads the Citroen C4 of reigning world champion Sebastien Loeb by 38.4 seconds.

Loeb won the day's opening special stage but then a poor tyre choice enabled Gronholm to pull away again.

Gronholm's fellow Finn and team-mate Mikko Hirvonen is 1:13.4 away in third.

"We lost too much time in the morning and now is not a time to take big risks," said French star Loeb, a three-time world champion.

"We will just try to keep the car on the road now. We are not even looking at Marcus, the goal is to contain Hirvonen. Second will be a good result here.

Just one wrong line will send me into a snow bank and the lead has gone

Marcus Gronholm
"Competing with Marcus in Sweden is very difficult. Eight points for second is very good."

Gronholm, a double world champion, was in commanding form on the icy roads around Karlstad, sweeping to wins in stages 10 to 14.

"I pushed really hard, but nothing crazy, because the Focus felt great and it turned in to the corners superbly," he told Eurosport.

"The gap is big enough now in a normal situation but there is still no room for mistakes.

"Just one wrong line will send me into a snow bank and the lead has gone. I want to be able to control everything, but to do that I need a bigger lead."

Loeb, who won the season-opener in Monte Carlo last month, picked up two special stage victories on Saturday and Subaru Impreza driver Mads Ostberg claimed the other.

Petter Solberg, another former world champion, had a far less enjoyable day. The Norwegian, placed third overnight, crashed out during stage 10.

Standings after 15 stages:
1 Marcus Gronholm (Fin) Ford 2 hrs 22 mins 29.6 secs
2 Sebastien Loeb (Fra) Citroen 2:23:08.0
3 Mikko Hirvonen (Fin) Ford 2:23:43.0
4 Henning Solberg (Nor) Ford 2:24:10.3
5 Daniel Carlsson (Swe) Citroen 2:25:16.1
6 Chris Atkinson (Aus) Subaru 2:25:24.8
7 Manfred Stohl (Aut) Citroen 2:25:56.3
8 Toni Gardemeister (Fin) Mitsubishi 2:25:07.7
9 Jari-Matti Latvala (Fin) Ford 2:26:06.9
10 Mads Ostberg (Nor) Subaru 2:28:22.9

14 Matthew Wilson (GB) Ford 2:31:49.3

Gronholm leads in Rally of Sweden
09 Feb 07 |  Rallying
Loeb falters on Swedish circuit
08 Feb 07 |  Rallying


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