Rallying: McRae celebrates Burns' plight

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The Independent Online
COLIN McRAE led the Acropolis Rally after the Subaru driver Richard Burns ended yesterday's final stage with a 16.4 second lead - but elected to take a 30sec time penalty and start today's run in fourth place.

Burns clocked in at the final time control three minutes late to collect the time penalty, believing that by starting behind his three main rivals he would have the benefit of running on a road swept clean by their cars. He is now 13.6sec behind McRae. The Scot began the second day of the four- day rally in strong form but lost time when a right front tyre punctured. After that he enjoyed a trouble-free run.

"We've been driving flat out but there's been a lot of loose gravel on the surface of the roads," the Ford Focus driver said, while acknowledging that Burns could derive significant advantage from his tactical move. "There's a real benefit in running further back," McRae said. "Running third we were seeing a clean line emerging but we were still getting more wheel spin than we would have liked."

Burns is seeking his first win of the year and his first since switching from Mitsubishi to Subaru at the end of last season. But he knows the rough terrain could still hinder him.

"We managed to survive the day without any trouble with the tyres or the car," he said. "It's very hot and the problem on this event is the ground temperatures of 45 degrees [Celsius]. That has a very great effect on the tyres, so it was a question of survival today.

"Tomorrow's stages are harder than today's, so our rivals will have to contend with far greater tyre wear. We're looking good."

Results, Digest, page 23