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Sebastien Loeb leads into closing stages of Rally Finland

Sebastien Loeb, Citroen, Finland 2011Sebastien Loeb holds a 12.5-second advantage going into the final three stages of Rally Finland after maintaining his lead through the first part of the final afternoon.

The world champion made a break from rivals Sebastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala this morning, giving him a cushion to maintain during the remaining six-stage loop.

Citroen has currently lost its one-two formation, though, as a puncture on SS17 cost Ogier several seconds and left him more cautious thereafter, allowing Latvala (Ford) to move into second, 2.5 seconds ahead.

"It's difficult for me because I have no more spares and one tyre very bad on the rear," said Ogier.

"First of all I want to finish the rally. It's a shame because without this puncture I think I would have been in a very good position to fight for the win."

Ford's Mikko Hirvonen continues to set a spectacular pace, winning two of the latest three stages to take fifth from Mads Ostberg (Stobart Ford) and close to within 3.6s of Petter Solberg's independent Citroen.

Mini has had a tough afternoon so far, with temperature issues affecting both cars and Kris Meeke also sustaining a puncture. Dani Sordo has fallen from seventh to 10th, behind the Stobart Fords of Henning Solberg and Matthew Wilson, and Kimi Raikkonen's Citroen. The former Formula 1 driver lost a little time when he damaged his car in an impact with the scenery on SS18.

Leading positions after SS19:

Pos  Driver              Team/Car           Time/Gap
 1.  Sebastien Loeb      Citroen          2h27m21.2s
 2.  Jari-Matti Latvala  Ford                + 12.5s
 3.  Sebastien Ogier     Citroen             + 15.0s
 4.  Petter Solberg      Solberg Citroen   + 1m14.9s
 5.  Mikko Hirvonen      Ford              + 1m18.5s
 6.  Mads Ostberg        Stobart Ford      + 1m25.4s
 7.  Henning Solberg     Stobart Ford      + 3m21.9s
 8.  Matthew Wilson      Stobart Ford      + 3m44.9s
 9.  Kimi Raikkonen      Ice 1 Citroen     + 3m47.0s
10.  Dani Sordo          Mini              + 3m49.3s
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