Rallying: Eriksson starts a charge

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Kenneth Eriksson, of Sweden, moved up from fourth place to first on the third day of Rally Australia. He dominated the early stages yesterday to take a four-second lead in his Mitsubishi Lancer as Juha Kankkunen, the overnight leader, dropped back to fourth place. Kankkunen was 44 seconds behind Eriksson after 17 stages.

"It will be very difficult from here," Kankkunen said. The four-times winner of the event said that he had had shock absorber problems with his Toyota Celica.

Colin McRae, of Scotland, held on to his overnight position of second in his Subaru Impreza, while Tommi Makinen of Finland, Eriksson's Mitsubishi team-mate, was third, 11 seconds off the pace.

Kankkunen started the day with a 17-second lead over McRae and appeared to have a fifth world championship in his sights after his main rivals ran into problems on the second day. His Toyota team-mate Didier Auriol, of France, rolled on stage 12 and was forced out of the event while Carlos Sainz, of Spain, retired on stage nine.

Auriol went into Rally Australia with a one-point lead over Kankkunen and Sainz in the world championship.