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Sebastien Loeb leads in Monte Carlo as podium fight closes up

Sebastien Loeb, Citroen, Monte Carlo 2012Sebastien Loeb continues to lead the Monte Carlo Rally, while Petter Solberg has begun catching Dani Sordo for second.

Citroen driver Loeb's advantage over the rest of the field grew to two and a half minutes over the first two of Saturday's four stages - the rest of which take place after dark tonight.

In his wake, the podium battle came to life again this afternoon. Loeb's team-mate Mikko Hirvonen won SS14 - his third consecutive fastest time - to get the gap to third-placed Petter Solberg's Ford down to 22.1 seconds, but then lacked confidence on the damp SS15, where Solberg was quickest.

With second-placed Dani Sordo (Mini) less comfortable this afternoon, his advantage over Solberg has come down from 1m06s to 40s in just two stages, though with only three remaining, the Mini still looks safe.

M-Sport Ford pair Evgeny Novikov and Francois Delecour continue to round out the top six despite power steering issues for the latter.

Leading positions after SS15:

Pos  Driver             Team/Car        Time/Gap
 1.  Sebastien Loeb     Citroen       4h00m10.9s
 2.  Dani Sordo         Mini           + 2m30.7s
 3.  Petter Solberg     Ford           + 3m10.6s
 4.  Mikko Hirvonen     Citroen        + 3m41.1s
 5.  Evgeny Novikov     M-Sport Ford   + 5m13.2s
 6.  Francois Delecour  M-Sport Ford   + 6m49.3s
 7.  Pierre Campana     Mini           + 8m05.6s
 8.  Ott Tanak          M-Sport Ford   + 9m18.0s
 9.  P-G Andersson      Proton        + 15m00.4s
10.  Martin Prokop      Czech Ford    + 15m22.3s
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