Loeb Closing In On Victory

Sebastien Loeb continues to lead the Acropolis Rally, having extended his advantage on both of this morning's stages run so far

Despite having nearly a one and a half minute lead, the Frenchman has kept pushing, taking a 3.9 second stage win on SS17, and only being one tenth of a seconds off Ford's Toni Gardemester on SS16.

Second-placed Gardemeister has not completely given up on victory, his SS16 stage win being his first of the rally. His pace however has more likely been aimed at defending the position from Loeb's teammate Carlos Sainz.

Sainz has dropped to more than 25 seconds behind Gardemeister, and will have to step up the pace on the final stages of the rally is to help his team secure a Citroen one-two.

Peugeot's Marcus Gronholm continues to post competitive stage times after recovering from yesterday's driveshaft problems, but the best he can realistically hope for is fourth position, currently more than a minute behind Sainz.

The battle for fifth intensified with only 2.3 seconds separating privateer Mikko Hirvonen from Mitsubishi's Harri Rovanpera.

Hirvonen had extended his advantage to 26.9 seconds at the end of yesterday, however Rovanpera was faster on both of this morning's stages. This could be the battle to focus on the today's final two stages.

Mitsubishi's Gigi Galli and Peugeot's Markko Martin rounded out the points scoring positions. Martin however could be under threat by the end of the rally from the recovering Petter Solberg. Solberg has narrowed the gap to Martin to 41.1 seconds.

Top 20 Leaderboard after SS17:

Pos  Driver         Team          Time
 1.  Loeb           Citroen       3h29m52.7
 2.  Gardemeister   Ford          +  1:28.4
 3.  Sainz          Citroen       +  1:54.0
 4.  Gronholm       Peugeot       +  2:58.9
 5.  Hirvonen       Ford          +  3:31.9
 6.  Rovanperä      Mitsubishi    +  3:34.2
 7.  Galli          Mitsubishi    +  4:40.6
 8.  Martin         Peugeot       +  5:07.0
 9.  Solberg        Subaru        +  5:48.1
10.  Sohlberg       Subaru        +  7:35.0
11.  Pons           Citroen       +  8:02.6
12.  Vovos          Subaru        + 11:12.0
13.  Sarrazin       Subaru        + 15:48.0
14.  Carlsson       Subaru        + 19:22.1
15.  Andersson      Suzuki        + 24:13.4
16.  Wilks          Suzuki        + 27:32.2
17.  Hatzitsopanis  Mitsubishi    + 27:37.2
18.  Papadimitriou  Ford          + 27:47.2
19.  Aava           Suzuki        + 28:04.9
20.  Schwarz        Skoda         + 30:11.4
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