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Solberg holds on to Rally Argentina lead as Loeb spins three times

Petter Solberg, FordPetter Solberg continues to lead the delayed Rally Argentina after the first two full-length stages, helped by three spins for Sebastien Loeb.

Ford driver Solberg had gained an early advantage by winning Thursday night's superspecial, on which the Citroens' choice of hard tyres backfired, leaving Loeb already 10 seconds behind going into Friday morning.

When the opening La Pampa stage finally got underway after a one-hour delay due to problems with the refuelling truck, Loeb started regaining ground with the fastest time, 1.9s up on Solberg.

That stage win was achieved despite a quick spin, but on the following 51.88-kilometre Ascochinga/Agua de Oro stage, a further two spins proved more costly for Loeb, who lost 26.5s to the leader and fell to fourth place.

Solberg therefore holds a 20s cushion over the other Citroen of Mikko Hirvonen, who moved ahead of Ford stand-in Dani Sordo on SS3.

Thierry Neuville (Citroen Junior) and Mads Ostberg (Adapta Ford) run fifth and sixth, while behind them the demanding rally is already taking its toll.

M-Sport Ford duo Evgeny Novikov and Ott Tanak sustained a damaged wheel and a puncture respectively on stage two, then both stopped and retired on the next stage, while a spin for Nasser Al-Attiyah (Qatar Citroen) and a puncture for Martin Prokop (Czech Ford) delayed them as well.

Leading positions after SS3:

Pos  Driver             Team/Car          Time/Gap
 1.  Petter Solberg     Ford            1h06m00.0s
 2.  Mikko Hirvonen     Citroen            + 20.1s
 3.  Dani Sordo         Ford               + 24.6s
 4.  Sebastien Loeb     Citroen            + 34.8s
 5.  Thierry Neuville   Citroen Junior     + 38.0s
 6.  Mads Ostberg       Adapta Ford        + 51.1s
 7.  Sebastien Ogier    VW Skoda         + 2m55.2s
 8.  Andreas Mikkelsen  VW Skoda         + 2m55.5s
 9.  Armindo Araujo     Portugal Mini    + 3m04.0s
10.  Nasser Al-Attiyah  Qatar Citroen    + 3m59.4s
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