Latvala closes in on Loeb on Acropolis Rally

Sebastien Loeb's lead over Jari-Matti Latvala is back down to 6.5 seconds after a Friday afternoon resurgence by the Ford driver

Latvala closes in on Loeb on Acropolis Rally

Loeb had looked like he was beginning to take control of the event as his Citroen pulled away during the second of three Friday loops, during which Latvala was unhappy with his Ford's handling.

But the Finn was in better form through the day's final three stages, and was able to trim Loeb's lead down again.

Latvala's big gain came on the leg's final stage, where Loeb was slightly hampered by poor visibility with several delayed cars creating dust ahead of him.

Ford now holds second and third places, with Petter Solberg recovering from his midday damage to reclaim third place from Mikko Hirvonen's Citroen via a stage win on the repeat of Elikonas.

Hirvonen then lost a little more ground when he sustained tyre damage on the final stage, which he suspected was a result of repeatedly wide as he struggled to see through dust kicked up by the delayed Mads Ostberg's Adapta Ford.

Ostberg was one of a litany of drivers behind the leaders who had issues during the afternoon - in the Norwegian's case a trip off the road on Thiva that left him annoyed with himself for making the mistake and annoyed with spectators who preferred photographing the incident to pushing the car back onto the road.

Thierry Neuville's Citroen Junior DS3 lost over five minutes limping through SS9 with a broken driveshaft, and both M-Sport Fords had issues - with Ott Tanak damaging his car and having to retire from seventh, and Evgeny Novikov having to fix both a turbo problem and a loose gear selector.

Novikov still managed to end the day in fifth, with the other dramas lifting Martin Prokop (Czech Ford) and Nasser Al-Attiyah (Qatar Citroen) to sixth and seventh.

Ostberg's accident dropped him from sixth to eighth, just ahead of the Volkswagen-run S2000 Skodas of Sebastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen. Neuville is now just outside the top 10.

Leading positions after SS9: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 2h14m01.3s 2. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 6.5s 3. Petter Solberg Ford + 17.7s 4. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen + 49.6s 5. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford + 3m54.9s 6. Martin Prokop Czech Ford + 4m46.7s 7. Nasser Al-Attiyah Qatar Citroen + 4m56.9s 8. Mads Ostberg Adapta Ford + 5m14.6s 9. Sebastien Ogier VW Skoda + 5m27.2s 10. Andreas Mikkelsen VW Skoda + 6m31.0s 
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Petter Solberg continues in Acropolis Rally after fixing damage to his car

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Series WRC
Drivers Sébastien Loeb , Jari-Matti Latvala
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