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Loeb keeps comfortable lead over Ogier in Monte Carlo Rally

Sebastien Loeb, Citroen, Monte Carlo 2013Sebastien Loeb continues to maintain a comfortable lead over Sebastien Ogier in the Monte Carlo Rally, as Evgeny Novikov flew on Thursday morning's snow-covered stages.

There was little to choose between Loeb's Citroen and Ogier's Volkswagen on the loop. Ogier was quickest on SS5, had a quick spin on SS6, then virtually matched Loeb on SS7.

The gap between them stands at 1m17.9s, with Loeb having built a margin on Wednesday afternoon.

But the fastest man of the morning was Qatar M-Sport Ford driver Novikov. A close second to Ogier on Labatie d'Andaure, Novikov then won the next two stages.

That brought Novikov past Jari-Matti Latvala's VW and Mikko Hirvonen's Citroen, and to within 7.6s of third-placed Citroen driver Dani Sordo.

All the Fords have been rapid in the tough conditions. Juho Hanninen challenged Latvala for sixth before a scare on SS6, while Mads Ostberg is making up time after a penalty for being late into service following electrical problems on Wednesday afternoon.

Leading positions after SS7:

Pos  Driver                Team/Car              Time/Gap
 1.  Sebastien Loeb        Citroen             2h29m49.4s
 2.  Sebastien Ogier       VW                   + 1m17.9s
 3.  Dani Sordo            Citroen              + 2m18.0s
 4.  Evgeny Novikov        Qatar M-Sport Ford   + 2m25.6s
 5.  Mikko Hirvonen        Citroen              + 2m29.7s
 6.  Jari-Matti Latvala    VW                   + 2m54.8s
 7.  Juho Hanninen         Qatar M-Sport Ford   + 3m20.5s
 8.  Bryan Bouffier        PH Citroen           + 4m17.0s
 9.  Mads Ostberg          Qatar M-Sport Ford   + 4m35.4s
10.  Martin Prokop         Czech Ford           + 10m04.2s

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