Day 2am: Loeb in control

Sebastien Loeb continued to prove this morning that you don't need to win stages to win rallies. The Citroen driver paced himself beautifully to maintain a healthy lead at the midday pause after five stages today in Catalunya.

Day 2am: Loeb in control

Loeb is a good 27 seconds in front of a fierce struggle for second place between Markko Martin and Gilles Panizzi. The pair passed overnight second-placed man Carlos Sainz on the day's first stage at Olost, and have been trading the place ever since. After SS13 they're only split by half a second. Panizzi won two of the morning's five stages and Martin took one.

The rally leader insists it hasn't been easy staying close to the leading stage times without making an error. "I have to be careful," said Loeb. "Martin and Panizzi are very quick and I have to push." Loeb spun away a victory chance last weekend in Corsica.

Sainz went the wrong way on setup this morning and will be pleased to get back to service. He's less that two seconds away from losing his fourth place to Ford's François Duval, who continued to show fine asphalt form with a win on SS12.

Richard Burns in sixth looks like he might need some help to get past the improving Duval, but the Englishman has at last won a stage. He took the 5.05km run through Taradell to record his first fastest time since Rally Finland in August. The stage was so short, however, that it made little difference to anybody's position.

Burns' Peugeot team-mate Marcus Gronholm showed some real fight this morning and progressed to eighth overall from tenth overnight. Colin McRae will be Gronholm's next target, but the Scot is 22 second clear in seventh. Petter Solberg is tenth, still waiting for the rain that is expected by his team this afternoon.


Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) 2h18m18.1s
Markko Martin (Ford) +27.2s
Gilles Panizzi (Peugeot) +28.2s
Carlos Sainz (Citroen) +53.4s
François Duval (Ford) +55.1s
Richard Burns (Peugeot) +1m25.9s

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Day 1: Citroen out front

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