Loeb charges into Argentina lead

Sebastien Loeb has taken the lead of the Rally Argentina after a blistering charge through this morning's loop of stages

Loeb charges into Argentina lead

The world champion - who is chasing his fifth straight win in Argentina and to maintain his 100 per cent victory rate in this year's series - began the day 16 seconds behind his rally-leading Citroen team-mate Dani Sordo after some small errors late on Friday.

But he started leg two with four consecutive stage wins, allowing him to overhaul both title rival Mikko Hirvonen (Ford) and Sordo to take the lead.

"I was 15s behind at the start of the day so I had to take big risks to try and catch them, so that's what I did," said Loeb, who heads to the midday service with a 7.3s lead over Hirvonen.

The Ford driver also managed to pass Sordo, but was frustrated that he could not fend Loeb off.

"It's been very close, but when it's narrow I just can't match their speeds," said Hirvonen. "The car is sliding all the time and I can't keep it straight, so I can't attack and do a good time, but I'm trying to go as fast as I can."

Sordo is now 12.2s behind Loeb, and admitted he could have coped better with leading the field this morning.

"I don't have splits, so I don't know if I'm driving well or not," he said. "It's very difficult to go first on the road."

Petter Solberg has now lost touch with the top three, his 2005 Citroen Xsara unable to match the more powerful modern cars on today's stages.

"I'm struggling in the height here," he said. "I'm pushing but I can't get the speed. I felt the driving went very well, but at high altitude it's completely different compared to further down."

Works Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala moved ahead of Stobart Ford's Henning Solberg for fifth, despite an unnerving incident on the first stage that left his Focus without a bonnet for the rest of the loop.

"At the exit of the first corner I noticed that the pin had come loose and the bonnet had started flapping," Latvala explained.

"On the straight I braked a little bit because I wasn't sure what to do, but on the next straight after that I thought 'let's go flat out and see what happens...' So I lost the whole bonnet! It went over the top of the car and luckily enough we had enough speed that it didn't hit the windscreen."

Local hero Federico Villagra (Munchi's Ford) has taken seventh from Stobart's Matthew Wilson, and has also seen his national championship team's driver Juan Marchetto move into the overall top ten in his Group N Mitsubishi after Citroen Junior's Conrad Rautenbach broke his steering on a rock and retired.

Leading positions after SS13:

Pos Driver Car Time 1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 2h34m37.8s 2. Mikko Hirvonen Ford + 7.3s 3. Dani Sordo Citroen + 12.2s 4. Petter Solberg Citroen + 55.3s 5. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 1m26.9s 6. Henning Solberg Ford + 1m45.9s 7. Federico Villagra Ford + 3m59.2s 8. Matthew Wilson Ford + 4m00.1s 9. Sebastien Ogier Citroen + 5m24.2s 10. Juan Marchetto Mitsubishi + 14m54.8s 
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Sordo hits the front in Argentina
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