Solberg takes New Zealand lead
|By Matt Beer||Friday, May 7th 2010, 04:18 GMT|
Petter Solberg has returned to the front in the Rally New Zealand, as just 6.7 seconds cover the top four drivers after the first eight stages.
Midday leader Dani Sordo (Citroen) dropped to third behind Citroen Junior's Sebastien Ogier and Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala on the first stage out of service this afternoon.
Ogier hung on in front for two stages, before Latvala took a turn in the lead - but only briefly, with Solberg then regaining the top spot with a win on SS8.
The Norwegian privateer heads for the end of day superspecial 1.5s ahead of Latvala. Ogier is 5.2s off the lead in third, and only 1.5s ahead of Sordo, with all four drivers insisting they were driving flat-out rather than holding back tactically to avoid running first tomorrow.
Ford's Mikko Hirvonen is a lonely and puzzled fifth, albeit still within 20s of the lead, while Sebastien Loeb's recovery after his morning incident is well underway.
The Citroen driver won the afternoon's longest stage despite being first on the road, and is seventh and gaining on Matthew Wilson, whose Stobart Ford has been hampered by a gearbox issue. Loeb remains 1m21s off the lead, though.
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap 1. Petter Solberg Citroen 1h34m43.6s 2. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 1.5s 3. Sebastien Ogier Citroen + 5.2s 4. Dani Sordo Citroen + 6.7s 5. Mikko Hirvonen Ford + 20.4s 6. Matthew Wilson Ford + 1m06.1s 7. Sebastien Loeb Citroen + 1m21.1s 8. Henning Solberg Ford + 1m42.2s 9. Jari Ketomaa Ford + 4m12.6s 10. Xevi Pons Ford + 4m35.0s