Rallying: Gronholm leads after Loeb penalty

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The Independent Online

The world champion, Sébastien Loeb was left cursing a 10-second penalty which allowed Marcus Gronholm to take a slender lead into the second day of the Swedish Rally.

Loeb was late arriving at a checkpoint after the bonnet on his Citroën flew open, forcing him to stop and secure it again. That cost him a 10-second penalty - and instead of ending the first day just 0.2sec behind Gronholm, the Frenchman trails his world title rival by 10.2sec.

Loeb blamed an extra set of headlights, which he needed to remove after stage two, for the mishap. "We took the lamp hood off at the end of the first stage and we did not close the bonnet completely. It came up on the road section, and we had to stop and close it."

The rally has turned into a two-way battle for honours after last year's winner Petter Solberg suffered a torrid day. The rear driveshaft on his Subaru broke this morning, costing him several minutes - before a 2min 10sec penalty for arriving late at a checkpoint further hampered him.

The Norwegian is nearly six minutes behind Gronholm in 18th but has vowed to push as hard as he can to reach the top eight.

He said: "I feel very disappointed, but there isn't much we can do about it. We were on a long straight, in sixth gear when the left-rear driveshaft just broke. There was no warning."

The Italian Gianluigi Galli holds the final podium place in his privateer Mitsubishi. Daniel Carlsson's Peugeot is fourth.

The English youngster Matthew Wilson is 16th after three stages in his Stobart Ford - while in the junior class, Guy Wilks is fifth for Suzuki.

Rally of Sweden (leading positions after stage 6): 1 M Gronholm (Fin) Ford 1:12.29.8; 2 S Loeb (Fr) Citroën 1:12.40.0; 3 G Galli (It) Mitsubishi 1:13.27.3; 4 D Carlsson (Swe) Mit'bishi 1:13.32.8; 5 M Ekstrom (Swe) Skoda 1:13.52.2; 6 M Stohl (Aut) Peugeot 1:13.58.5; 7 H Solberg (Nor) Peugeot 1:14.10.1; 8 K Sohlberg (Fin) Subaru 1:14.18.2; 9 J Tuohino (Fin) Citroën 1:14.21.2; 10 T Radstrom (Swe) Subaru 1:14.41.2

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