Peugeot 206 WRC driver Marcus Gronholm won the Rally of Sweden at the weekend after a dominant drive in the ice and snow north of Karlstad.

Peugeot 206 WRC driver Marcus Gronholm won the Rally of Sweden at the weekend after a dominant drive in the ice and snow north of Karlstad.

The reigning world champion, who was forced to retire while leading the Monte Carlo Rally two weeks ago, was in commanding form all weekend and saw off a prolonged challenge from Subaru's Tommi Makinen with ease after establishing a good lead on the first day.

Gronholm beat his fellow Finn by 50,8 seconds, with the second Peugeot of Briton Richard Burns in third place. Makinen started the final day by setting the fastest time and inching closer to Gronholm, but the Peugeot star recovered the lost time on the very next stage and was not troubled again.

"I am very happy, of course,” said Gronholm. “It was a good rally with no mistakes and the car was perfect.” When it was pointed out that he had twice won the rally before and in each case went on to win the World Championship, Marcus commented: “In that case it looks good, but we have 12 more rallies to go.”

Estonian Markko Martin was fourth in a Ford Focus, after holding off Colin McRae, who made a superb recovery after two spins on the first day.

Subaru's Petter Solberg won the final stage of the day and finished sixth overall in vain pursuit of McRae. The Finn finished just 3,3sec behind, regretting his set-up choice on Friday, which saw him struggle before he adopted team-mate Makinen's settings for the second and third days. “It's just too bad I didn't do it on Saturday,” said Solberg. “It could have been quite good.”

The only change to the overall top 10 on the final day of the rally was the charge up the leaderboard of Frenchman Sebastien Loeb, the Monte Carlo winner, driving a Citroën Xsara.

Loeb, who started the day in 10th place, leapfrogged Belgian Freddy Loix, his Spanish Citroen team-mate Carlos Sainz and Finn Toni Gardemeister to finish seventh.

Original article from Car