Burns battles back into lead of Portuguese Rally

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The Independent Online

Richard Burns delivered a spectacular display of aggressive driving on Saturday, fighting back from a 40-second overnight deficit to take a 10 second lead in the Portuguese Rally in Ardganil, Portugal.

The British driver set a scorching pace, winning five of the day's first six stages and dislodging overnight leader Marcus Gronholm.

Burns had led the race early on Friday but then dropped back to third place after steering problems with his Subaru Impreza.

Gronholm, driving a Peugot 206 WRC, held onto second place ahead of Spaniard Carlos Sainz in a Ford Focus WRC.

Sainz's teammate Petter Solberg won one stage and moved up to fourth place but he was 1 minute, 19 seconds adrift of Burns.

Kenneth Eriksson became the race's latest casualty when he dropped out of the race on Saturday with clutch problems on his Hyundai Accent.

On Friday, four-time world champion Juha Kankkunen, reigning world champion and current championship leader Tommi Makinen, and Colin McRae, a twotime winner in Portugal, all exited the event.

The Portuguese Rally, the fourth event in the world championship, ends on Sunday.

Leading drivers after Saturday's first six stages, covering 117 kilometers (70 miles), in the Portuguese Rally in Lousada, Portugal:

1, Richard Burns, Britain, Subaru Impreza, 3 hours, 7 minutes, 24.2 seconds. 2, Marcus Gronholm, Finland, Peugeot 206 WRC, 10 seconds behind. 3, Carlos Sainz, Spain, Ford Focus WRC, 46.2 seconds behind. 4, Petter Solberg, Norway, Ford Focus WRC, 1 minute, 19.3 seconds behind. 5, Harri Rovanpera, Finland, Toyota Corolla WRC, 1 minute, 31 seconds behind. 6, Francois Delecour, France, Peugeot 206 WRC, 2 minutes, 19.5 seconds behind. 7, Markko Martin, Toyota Corolla WRC, 3 minutes, 32.9 seconds behind 8, Freddy Loix, Mitsubishi Carisma GT, 4 minutes, 40.6 seconds behind. 9, Armin Schwarz, Skoda Octavia WRC, 4 minutes, 53 seconds behind. 10, Toni Gardemeister, Seat Cordoba WRC, 5 minutes 48 seconds behind.