Loeb Avoids Trouble

Citroen's Sebastien Loeb studiously avoided trouble on leg two of the Rally of Japan on Saturday as he closed in on his second straight world title

Loeb Avoids Trouble

Finn Marcus Gronholm won four of the first six stages on leg two to close the gap on race leader Petter Solberg to 20 seconds.

Loeb, who only needs a podium finish to retain his title, was third 31.5 seconds behind Gronholm and with a cushion of one minute 17.6 seconds over Mitsubishi's Harri Rovanpera in fourth.

Peugeot's Gronholm made his charge by winning stages 11, 12, 14 and 15 in a bid to halt Solberg's quest for a second straight Japanese title.

Only Solberg and Gronholm have a mathematical chance of preventing Loeb from claiming the title again this year but in reality, the Frenchman now only needs to avoid disaster.

Loeb, who has won a record eight out of 12 races this year, has 99 points in the drivers' championship with Solberg on 65 and Gronholm on 61.

Standings after SS14:

Pos Driver Make Time 1. Solberg Subaru 1:58:41.3 2. Gronholm Peugeot + 20.5 3. Loeb Citroen + 45.0 4. Rovanpera Mitsubishi + 2:07.1 5. Atkinson Subaru + 2:14.4 6. Galli Mitsubishi + 2:24.1 7. Duval Citroen + 2:28.7 8. Gardemeister Ford + 3:18.9 9. Kresta Ford + 3:30.1 10. Carlsson Peugeot + 4:31.3 11. Warmbold Ford + 5:55.9 12. Schwarz Skoda + 7:22.6 13. Panizzi Mitsubishi + 8:18.0 14. Sola Ford + 9:28.8 15. Arai Subaru + 12:59.9 16. Nutahara Mitsubishi + 13:13.7 17. Crocker Subaru + 13:37.5 18. Kamada Subaru + 14:04.6 19. Teiskonen Subaru + 15:16.4 20. Pozzo Subaru + 15:32.4 All Timing Unofficial 
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Solberg Finishes Day One on Top
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