Loeb Dominates as Day Ends Early

Sebastien Loeb dominated Leg Two of the Rally Cyprus - which ended with an anti climax

Loeb Dominates as Day Ends Early

The Citroen driver won the first four stages of the day to take a lead of more than three minutes over Austrian privateer Manfred Stohl. However, the day's two final stages were both stopped early.

SS11 was stopped after Loeb's teammate Francois Duval hit a tree and his car burst into flames after splitting an oil pipe under the bonnet. Neither Duval or co-driver Stephane Prevot was injured in the accident.

"It was a right hand corner," Duval told Autosport-Atlas. "I braked too late and we slid off the road and touched the tree. The fire came and I got the fire out with the extinguisher and I thought I could carry on. I turned on the fuel pump and the fire came back. Now the car is finished."

SS12 was then cancelled on safety grounds after fans were seen wandering over the stage. After the delays at the previous cancelled stage, there was a twenty-minute gap between Henning Solberg and Stohl passing through and spectators apparently believed it had finished.

Drivers who didn't complete the stage were awarded notional times.

The excitement of the rally now lies in the battle for second and third with Peugeot's Markko Martin a minute behind Stohl and Solberg.

Martin, recovering from a puncture sustained on yesterday's first stage, was only 0.3 seconds off Loeb on SS7, and nearly halved the deficit to Stohl by lunchtime. However, the gap to third placed Solberg increased by the end of the day with Solberg holding nearly 20 seconds over the Estonian.

Fifth placed Antony Warmbold pulled up in the SS11 with a loss of oil pressure handing the initiative to Ford's Toni Gardemeister.

Gardemeister had overhauled Mitsubishi's Harri Rovanpera, after being second quickest on SS8 and SS9. He had benefited from Warmbold and Duval's woes to move up to fifth, however he had to drive SS12 on a deflated tyre.

But Duval and Warmbold were not the only ones to have trouble on Cyprus' rough stages. Rovanpera pulled up on SS12 without a front-right wheel, after a suspension failure tore it off.

Petter Solberg and Marcus Gronholm chose not to restart, after retiring yesterday.

Rally Cyprus - End of leg two leaderboard:

Pos  Driver          Make            Time
 1.  Loeb            Citroen         3h35:33.9
 2.  Stohl           Citroen         +  3:32.7
 3.  Solberg         Ford            +  4:15.4
 4.  Martin          Peugeot         +  4:34.9
 5.  Gardemeister    Ford            +  7:11.8
 6.  Kresta          Ford            +  8:27.3
 7.  Rovanpera       Mitsubishi      + 11:11.6
 8.  Tuohino         Skoda           + 13:15.3
 9.  Carlsson        Peugeot         + 13:56.2
10.  Warmbold        Ford            + 15:06.9
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Loeb's Lead Extended in Cyprus
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