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Gronholm masters Swedish snow


February 10, 2007. Double world champion Marcus Gronholm led the Swedish Rally at the end of Leg 1 on Friday, by 11 seconds from arch rival and defending world champion Sebatsien Loeb.

The Finnish Ford Fosucs RS 2006 driver won three of the eight special stages to lead Loeb's Citroen C4 WRC at the overnigth halt.

"I had a good afternoon, apart from the long stage when I thought I had attacked too hard and lost (snow and ice-penetrating) studs from my tyres," Gronholm said. "But there were only a few studs missing so I think it was just the tyre moving around a little bit.

"I need to try to take a few more seconds advantage over Loeb tomorrow to try to make my lead more comfortable. That won't be easy but I have to drive flat out and keep a close watch on the split times."

Loeb won two stages on day one in Sweden and went to the halt 11.5 seconds ahead of Petter Solberg in the resurgent works Subaru Impreza WRC 2006.

Privateer Toni Gardemeister gave Mitsubish its first rally lead in years when he won Thursday night's super special by five-tenths of a second from Gronholm. Gardemeister was driving a two-year-old Mitsubishi Lancer WR05. He ended Friday sixth overall, around 35 seconds behind Gronholm.

Standings at the end of Leg 1, February 9.

1. Marcus Gronholm-Timo Rautiainen, Ford Focus RS WRC 06, 1h 05m 21.3s.
2. Sebastien Loeb-Daniel Elena, Citroen C4 WRC, 11.1s behind.
3. Petter Solberg-Philip Mills. Subaru Impreza WRC 2006, 22.6s behind.
4. Henning Solberg-C. Menkurud, Ford Focus RS WRC 06, 27.9s behind.5. Mikko Hirvonen-Jarmo Lehtinen, Ford Focus RS WRC 06, 31.0s behind.
6. Toni Gardemeister-J. Honkanen, Mitsubishi Lancer WR05, 34.9s behind.
7. Daniel Carlsson-Denis Giraudet, Citroen Xsara WRC, 44.1s behind.
8. Manfred Stohl-Ilkka Minor, Citroen Xsara WRC, 65.0s behind.
9. Chris Atkinson-Glenn Macneall, Subaru Impreza WRC 2006, 68.8s behind.
10. J. Latvala-M. Anttila, Ford Focus RS WRC 06, 1m 40.6s behind.



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