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Superstar Colin McRae second in thrilling Australian battle
Australia : Skoda Motorsport
Colin McRae made maximum use of his start position for the opening day of Rally Australia to complete the second leg in second place. Colin's Skoda Motorsport World Rally Team partner Armin Schwarz finished 10th as he contests the final rally
of his career.
With a group of five stages without service this morning it was a frustrating for Colin when he lost the automatic gearshift on the opening stage. It cost a few seconds on each stage and allowed the Scot to be caught and passed by Harri Rovanpera. However on the final stage of the group he regained the place and with overnight leader Petter Solberg retiring with engine damage after hitting a kangaroo, McRae returned to service in second place, 23.8 seconds behind Francois Duval.

Armin moved into the top 10 during the morning, helped by second fastest on the third stage of the day but was taking no risks at all on his final appearance in the World Rally Championship.

Colin McRae
“We lost some time this morning with the gearshift problem but it wasn't so bad. I'm working hard to win the battle with Harri and trying to keep Francois under pressure. Given that I've only driven the car in competition for less than 600kms I'd settle for second right now but I'm still going to try and win if I can. The Fabia is certainly good enough to set the times it needs.”

Armin Schwarz
“It has been quite good fun today. If the roads are on their second use the ruts are very bad and you have to be careful not to get out of them but if the roads are smooth you can really enjoy sliding the car and entertaining the crowds. There are a lot of spectators watching the stages.”

Martin Muehlmeier, Head of Škoda Motorsport
“I went out to watch the famous jumps today. Colin was by far the most spectacular driver. But what impressed me most was the level of support he has even on the far side of the world from home. He is a true superstar.”

Tomorrow's final leg features six more forest stages (three stages, each run twice) totalling 103.32kms and including two runs over the longest stage of the event, the 29.93kms Helena North stage. The rally finishes in Perth at 1445 (0745CET).
Press release Skoda Motorsport

     Manfred Stohl aiming for place on podium
     Ford delighted by performance of new Focus RS
     Rovanpera third going into final leg
     Solberg's bad luck continues in Australia
     Barratt keeps on fighting
     Lancer Evolution drivers continue good run
     Loeb halted, Duval 2nd overall
     Trouble-free day for race leader Petter Solberg
     A good start for Skoda and Colin McRae
     More bad luck for Natalie Barratt

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