Makinen cruises to top of table

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The Independent Online

Tommi Makinen won the Safari Rally in Kenya yesterday to lead the drivers' championship table and share the distinction of 23 wins with Colin McRae, Carlos Sainz and Juha Kankkunen.

All four are set to contest the Rally of Finland next month in the battle to be rallying's most successful driver.

With a host of star names failing to stay the course on the world's toughest rally, Makinen could almost cruise to victory.

Petter Solberg's Subaru joined the retirement list when it shed a wheel on the opening stage and Bruno Thiry suffered the cruellest blow when he crashed out on the final stage, just as team-mate Armin Schwarz was celebrating third place – Skoda's best result at this level.

That third could still become second with event stewards ready to discuss claims that runner-up Harri Rovanpera reached a control on the first day from the wrong direction.

If the Peugeot driver has infringed the rules then he faces exclusion from the event.