Ford’s Markko Martin has won his second successive WRC event in the Rally Catalunya, claiming victory by more 23 seconds over Marcus Gronholm.

Ford’s Markko Martin has won his second successive WRC event in the Rally Catalunya, claiming victory by more 23 seconds over Marcus Gronholm.

At the start of Sunday’s racing, Martin had his Ford Focus placed firmly at the top of the leader board and his team decided to set a cautious pace on the final day of racing.

"I drove to the times of the other drivers, which the team sent to us," Martin explained. "I just matched their pace and drove carefully. As a result, I probably drove badly, because it's more difficult to drive relatively slowly than it is when you drive at normal pace."

"We had nothing to gain but an awful lot to lose," the Ford driver said.

"When Sebastian Loeb retired yesterday morning, it took away our only remaining rival. It was easy to hang on to first place, but difficult to keep the right pace and not make any mistakes on roads that were pretty slippery."

The roads were slippery throughout the weekend and teams were faced with difficult tyre decisions on wet, but drying roads.

"It was certainly the safe choice," Martin said about his choice of intermediate tyres. "Maybe a cut slick would have been better, but it has been difficult to choose the right tyres throughout the event because of the changing weather."

In the early special stages, the intermediates cost Gronholm another 3,4 seconds to Martin, but he got the tyre choice right for the final three stages. He set the fastest times on each of the stages and took a total of six stage wins in the rally.

"I'm quite satisfied," Gronholm said. "We are definitely heading in the right direction now, which is very encouraging. I'm also very pleased that we had no mechanical problems at all during the three days of the event."

Carlos Sainz claimed points for Citroën as he took his eighth podium of the year in his home event. Team-mate Loeb was forced to retire early on Saturday after damaging his car.

"For us, this was a rally full of emotion," Sainz said. "The last time through these special stages, in front of my fans. The result doesn't really matter, in the end!"

Subaru’s Petter Solberg never got his Impreza and Pirelli tyres to work for him and struggled for grip and speed throughout the event. He finished fifth.

"It's been a difficult weekend. We got back in one piece, with some points, and gathered some useful data," he recalled. "Of course, I know that we have the potential to do so much better. Now, though, it's time to re-focus on the next event. We won Australia before, we've dominated the last few gravel rallies and I'm hungry for another rally win."