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Martin holds the lead on day two Acropolis Rally

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Martin holds the lead on day two Acropolis Rally

Markko Martin came into the second day of competition in the Acropolis Rally with the overall lead. However, last year, a puncture tire took the then-leader Martin out of podium competition. At the end of this year's leg two in Greece, Martin...

Markko Martin came into the second day of competition in the Acropolis Rally with the overall lead. However, last year, a puncture tire took the then-leader Martin out of podium competition. At the end of this year's leg two in Greece, Martin holds a comfortable 55.8 second lead over Carlos Sainz.

The final day has now been set up with Martin looking toward the first overall rally win of the season for himself and the Ford Focus team.

Markko Martin.
Photo by Ford Motor Company.
"We've had a great day," said the leader Martin. "We pushed hard to try to give ourselves a good lead for tomorrow and we've done that. I drove at a comfortable pace. We weren't cruising, it was still flat out, but we didn't take any massive risks. You need a good strong car here and the Focus has been very reliable and now we're looking forward to tomorrow."

Citroen's Sainz looks toward his second rally victory in 2003 having won the Rally Turkey.

"I am happy with the car now, I'm not going to be making any more changes," stated Sainz. "Everything has gone well for us today, but there's still a long way to go. Everybody around is pushing hard, it wouldn't be the rally if people weren't pushing."

Petter Solberg and Colin McRae would like to be on top of the first podium step to clinch their first victories of the 2003 championship season.

Solberg felt his chance is good for tomorrow as he took it a bit easy today in his Subaru, "We haven't pushed too hard this afternoon, not taken too many risks, but we will be having a big push tomorrow. I can still win here."

Sainz's teammate, McRae won the 2002 Acropolis Rally with the same consistency he demonstrated in the first two days. "I'm going at about the same pace as yesterday," McRae commented. "I'm not going to push any harder, once you do that there is a danger of starting to overdrive the car and losing time that way."

What happened to the Peugeot team? The team has been consistent in wins this year amassing 65 points in the first five rallies. The new points system has kept their lead and that of two of the drivers from being a runaway early in the season. Citroen sits second with 52 points.

Richard Burns held the overall lead coming into the sixth round and as long as he finishes tomorrow in the top ten should keep the lead; however teammate Marcus Gronholm could lose his second in the standings to Sainz.

What happened to Marcus Gronholm yesterday? The first reports indicated a fuel pump problem, no doubt due to the sandy conditions. However, team boss Corrado Provera announced today that the Peugeot had a disconnected pipe in the fuel tank, referring to the world champion's retirement as, "It was the most stupid reason for a retirement in our time in the championship."

Burns is still in the competition, albeit 2 minutes, 10.7 seconds behind Martin. The top Peugeot driver in the rally sits sixth, teammate Harri Rovanpera is seventh.

Harri Rovanpera.
Photo by Team Peugeot.
Rovanpera was second after leg one, but lost the spot due to a gearbox problem that developed on stage ten. He nursed the Peugeot throughout most of the 10th stage and the entire 11th stage to get it into the service area. Rovanpera's hopes were dashed for the overall victory. A great comeback in stage 12 as Rovanpera edged out his teammate Burns for the win.

Leader Martin started the day sluggish but returned to his winning form by taking the Drosohori 11th stage and the long 34.69km stage 13, the special that took him out of the chance for victory last year with his puncture tire. Before leg two was over, Martin added to his stage victories with a wins in stages 14 and 15.

Sainz took the second spot of stages nine, ten and eleven before finally winning a stage - the short 2.25km Lilea Parassos 2 special stage 16 to end the second day on a high note. Sainz finished second on the overall leaderboard.

Solberg made his move early by taking the win in the 9th and 10th stages, moving into second overall on the leaderboard. Solberg continued his climb by taking second in the 13th, 14th and 15th stages to take the third overall spot.

Fourth in the overall standings going into tomorrow's final leg is McRae "Mr. Consistency" for the day. McRae had three consecutive fourth places before moving up to third in the 14th stage.

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