McRae has the edge

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The Independent Online

The Subaru team made up for their double retirement in Portugal three weeks ago as Colin McRae and Italy's Piero Liatti filled the two top positions after the first day of the Catalunya Rally yesterday.

The team-mates, who finished first and second in this rally last year, were separated by just one second after the day's six stages through the mountains above the coastal resort of Lloret de Mar.

The surprise of the day was pace of the two-wheel drive Peugeots, driven by the Frenchmen Francois Delecour and Jules Pazzini. Delecour took the lead on the first stage but, after losing it to Pazzini on the second stage he went off the road on the third stage, at Coll de Santigosa.

That handed the initiative to Pazzini, who slowly extended his lead, first over the Finn, Tommi Makinen, and then McRae, as the battle behind him hotted up during the middle section of the day. But on the final stage, at Cladells, Pazzini lost a lot of time after suffering a puncture, which effectively cost him any realistic chance of victory.