Rallying: McRae's title hopes still healthy

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The Independent Online
Needing to win to keep alive his world championship challenge, Colin McRae led the Australian Rally after 10 of the 11 stages on the first full leg run yesterday.

McRae, in a Subaru, took full advantage of the misfortunes of his rivals to open an eight-second lead over fellow Briton Richard Burns, in a Mitsubishi, with the Frenchman Didier Auriol, in a Toyota, third 34 seconds behind McRae. The final 11th stage of the day was due to start four and a half hours after the 10th stage finished.

McRae's main title rivals, the defending champion and title leader Tommi Makinen, in a Mitsubishi, and overnight leader, Carlos Sainz, in a Ford, struggled.

Makinen incurred a 30-second time penalty when his car failed to start and had to be pushed out of Parc Ferme. He was sixth, one minute 41 seconds behind McRae after the 10 stages.

Fellow Finn Juha Kankkunen's Ford hit a tree on the first stage of the day and was penalised for arriving late at time control.

Sainz was fourth at the end of stage 10, 52sec behind the Scotsman McRae.

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