RALLYING; McRae's one-minute exit

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The Independent Online
COLIN McRAE'S China Rally challenge lasted just over a mile yesterday, but his fellow Briton Richard Burns kept his world championship prospects alive. McRae and his Ford team-mate Thomas Radstrom both retired on the first stage - the same concrete culvert ending their chances - in an event in which heavy rain has already claimed an alarming number of withdrawals .

In the 11th event in this year's series it took only a minute for McRae to hit trouble. The Scot's Ford Focus clipped concrete on a bend less than a quarter of the way into the 5.5-mile timed section, severely damaging the suspension. McRae's exit almost certainly ended any hopes he had of a second world championship.

Tommi Makinen, who tops the standings by 10 points and is 19 in front of Burns, led in his Mitsubishi until stage five, on which he damaged a rear-door panel. The repairs cost Makinen a 10-second penalty, which allowed Burns to move ahead.

The Englishman ended the leg with 19.8sec in hand of Toyota's Didier Auriol, who is second in the world championship, while Makinen was a further 12.6sec adrift in third.

n Britain's Network Q Rally will have a new base next year when the event moves to Cardiff from Cheltenham.

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