Rallying: Ford's fall sees Sainz take lead

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CARLOS SAINZ, the world champion, took control of the San Remo Rally yesterday after engine problems forced the Ford Escorts of Francois Delecour and Massimo Biasion out of the race. The Frenchman Delecour had hoped to close the 29-point gap on the world championship leader, Juha Kankkunen, of Finland, who is not competing in this race.

Delecour led going into the seventh special stage before his engine began to play up. His Italian team-mate, Biasion, briefly moved to the top of the standings before he, too, was forced out of contention. Their problems cleared the way for the Spaniard Sainz, without a race win this season, to take charge of an event Lancia have won every year since 1985.

However, Sainz has lost the support of his Italian team-mate, Andrea Aghini, who won last year. Aghini dropped out on the opening day of the three-day race with mechanical problems.

The drivers were last night heading for the small Tuscan town of Il Ciocco with the evening stages raced in thick fog.

Toyota have already wrapped up the constructors' championship.

SAN REMO RALLY Leading standings (after eight special stages): 1 C Sainz (Sp) Lancia Delta 1hr 34min 40sec; 2 G Cunico (It) Ford Escort 1:34:53; 3 D Cerrato (It) Lancia Delta 1:35:31; 4 P Snijers (Bel) Ford Escort 1:36:19; 5 A Fiorio (It) Lancia Delta 1:36:39; 6 G Pianezzola (It) Lancia Delta 1:38:38; 7 B Thiry (Bel) Opel Astra 1:39:21; 8 G Vita (It) Toyota Celica 1:43:47; 9 A Fassina (It) Mazda 323 1:43:48; 10 A Medeghini (It) Peugeot 106 1:44:29.