Rallying: Burns edges ahead

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The Independent Online

Richard Burns held off the defending world champion and Peugeot team-mate, Marcus Gronholm, to take the lead in the Rally of Germany yesterday.

Burns, ahead in the world-title race by just a point, finished the seven stages 9.4 seconds ahead of the Finn after the first of three days' racing in southern Germany. The Frenchman Sebastian Loeb was just 0.9 of a second behind Gronholm in his Citroen.

Burns won four stages, including the last one through the streets of St Wendel. He had problems with his tyres in the early stages through the rough, dirty asphalt of a former military base.

The Ford driver Markko Martin held a narrow lead over Burns after four stages, then ran into problems with his gearbox. He finished more than a minute behind the leader.

Loeb, who won the event last year, fought tyre damage in the first two stages through vineyards, then closed to 7.6 seconds of Burns heading into the final stage.

He then dropped 2.7 seconds in the sprint through St Wendel to the British driver and was also passed by Gronholm.