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Sebastien Loeb stretches his Monte Carlo Rally lead

Sebastien Loeb, Citroen, Monte Carlo 2012Sebastien Loeb is edging away from his rivals at the start of day two of the Monte Carlo Rally, winning all three of today's stages so far.

Ford rival Jari-Matti Latvala's crash on Wednesday afternoon left Loeb's Citroen a minute clear at the head of the field, and he has extended that advantage to 1m23.2s already today, amid dry and cold conditions.

In Loeb's wake, the battle for second place is extremely close. Ford's Petter Solberg took the position from Dani Sordo's Mini on the morning's opening stage, lost it again on SS6, then reclaimed it on SS7, moving ahead by 3.7 seconds.

Mikko Hirvonen has moved up to fourth as he settles into the second works Citroen, with the second-quickest time on SS6 his best performance of the week so far.

His Citroen predecessor Sebastien Ogier is still in the overall top five in his Volkswagen-run Super 2000 Skoda Fabia. Although Ogier fell behind both Hirvonen and Evgeny Novikov (M-Sport Ford) early today, he took fifth back from the Russian when Novikov clipped a wall and caused minor steering damage, costing him a little pace.

Leading positions after SS7:

Pos  Driver             Team/Car        Time/Gap
 1.  Sebastien Loeb     Citroen       2h08m12.1s
 2.  Petter Solberg     Ford           + 1m23.2s
 3.  Dani Sordo         Mini           + 1m26.9s
 4.  Mikko Hirvonen     Citroen        + 3m00.9s
 5.  Sebastien Ogier    VW Skoda       + 3m13.4s
 6.  Evgeny Novikov     M-Sport Ford   + 3m16.0s
 7.  Francois Delecour  M-Sport Ford   + 4m07.9s
 8.  Pierre Campana     Mini           + 5m31.6s
 9.  Ott Tanak          M-Sport Ford   + 5m35.8s
10.  P-G Andersson      Proton         + 7m02.7s
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