Rally: McRae pushes into contention

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The Independent Online

Colin McRae has set his sights on a repeat performance after finishing a surprising third on the first day of Rally Australia. McRae put his Skoda into third behind the Subaru of Petter Solberg and Citröen's François Duval after world champion Sébastien Loeb crashed out on stage nine, damaging his car beyond repair.

McRae is 1.4 seconds behind Duval after the Frenchman's team-mate and fellow countryman Loeb made his exit while leading the event.

Duval kept up Citröen's bid for victory by finishing the day in second, with McRae in third and Mitsubishi's Harri Rovanpera 15.5sec behind.

McRae had a slow start to the event, but quickly worked his way up the order thanks to his road position which allowed him to start down the running order after most of the gravel had been swept away by the earlier starters.

McRae was pleased after taking advantage of the harder base surface of the road to force his way into the top three. "Today has gone completely to plan," he said. "I drove a bit too slowly on the opening stage but since then I've been able to push.

"The road position has helped but the car has been fine too. If we can do the same tomorrow who knows what result is possible."