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World Rally team at Brandywell

Three weeks before the final round of the 2007 World Rally Championship, one of the leading teams is putting its cars through their paces on a closed public road in the Isle of Man.

Two times champion and current championship leader Marcus Gronholm, and fellow Finn Mikko Hirvonen, are driving the high specification Focus cars run by the BP-Ford team on the Brandywell Road.

Gronholm, who was champion in 2000 and 2002, is four points ahead of Frenchman Sebastion Loeb going into the final round, the Wales Rally of Great Britain, which gets underway three weeks tomorrow.

The flying Finn was runner-up in last year's championship and will be going all out for victory in the Welsh event, as he is due to retire at the end of the season.

Hirvonen is lying third in the championship, a further 16 points behind the leader.

The BP-Ford team has a strong presence at Brandywell, with teams of mechanics and officials with tents and trucks.

The Citroen team staged a series of similar practice sessions on the Island prior to last year's British round of the World Rally Championship.

(Image: One of the BP-Ford World Rally cars, pictured at Brandywell Cottage today).

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