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WRC NEWS 

Solberg leads as Loeb struggles

Petter SolbergPetter Solberg has taken the lead of Rally Japan, while Sebastien Loeb is falling away in sixth place after five stages.

Despite still suffering with illness and getting a puncture near the end of SS4, Citroen privateer Solberg won the first two Friday stages, moving him onto the tail of Thursday evening leader Sebastien Ogier, and then taking him into a clear lead.

As the field heads for the first service, Solberg's advantage over works Citroen driver Ogier is up to 10.3 seconds, with Citroen Junior's Dani Sordo 2.2s behind Ogier in third and fourth-placed Mikko Hirvonen (Ford) just 0.9s down on the Spaniard.

Jari-Matti Latvala is 20s off the lead in the second Ford in fifth - and 16.3s clear of Loeb. The world champion has lost time throughout the morning and although he felt some of the deficit was due to running first on the road, he was generally confused by his lack of pace.

"I was trying to push but I have no solution for that," said Loeb after SS3. "Maybe it's the road condition a bit. We'll have to check. We are very slow."

Henning Solberg (Stobart Ford) won the short SS5 and is just 7.3s behind Loeb in seventh. His team-mate Matthew Wilson, Munchi's Ford's Federico Villagra and Citroen Junior's Kimi Raikkonen complete the WRC field.

Pos  Driver              Car       Time/Gap
 1.  Petter Solberg      Citroen   36m56.1s
 2.  Sebastien Ogier     Citroen    + 10.3s
 3.  Dani Sordo          Citroen    + 12.5s
 4.  Mikko Hirvonen      Ford       + 13.4s
 5.  Jari-Matti Latvala  Ford       + 20.3s
 6.  Sebastien Loeb      Citroen    + 36.6s
 7.  Henning Solberg     Ford       + 43.9s
 8.  Matthew Wilson      Ford     + 1m25.9s
 9.  Federico Villagra   Ford     + 1m53.6s
10.  Kimi Raikkonen      Citroen  + 2m11.4s
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