Loeb Extends Lead

Sebastien Loeb took control of the Wales Rally GB after winning all three of the second leg's opening loop of stages

Loeb Extends Lead

The Frenchman now leads the event by 23.7 seconds, which would have been even more if it wasn't for the ten second penalty he received leaving TC3 a minute late yesterday.

Loeb was in dominant form and it is beginning to look more likely the Frenchman will claim his ninth victory of the season this weekend, after second placed Petter Solberg admitted he was no match for the Citroen driver.

"I'm trying very hard believe me," Solberg said. "Loeb is going too fast, I'm flat in sixth gear, but I just can't keep up. I can't do any more than I am doing. "

Loeb, who went into this morning's stages with only a 9.9 second advantage over Solberg, said he was building up the gap in an attempt to go into tomorrow's stages with a healthy lead.

"We have a good set up this morning," Loeb said. "The tyres are working well. I've tried hard to increase my lead because ten seconds is not much with two days still to go. Especially with the last stages tomorrow being Margam, which has been a problem for me in the last couple of years.

"But I must continue to push - [I] nearly made a big mistake just after the start.

Harri Rovanpera continues to hold third, however Marcus Gronholm is closing hard. Gronholm's Peugeot has halved the gap to the Rovanpera's Mitsubishi from 39.6 seconds to 17.7 seconds.

Rovanpera was struggling with his rear tyres, suffering vibrations from the anti-deflation mousse that operated when his rear tyre punctured.

Francois Duval is winning the close battle for fifth, however Peugeot's Markko Martin has run better this morning and was third fastest on SS7. Martin is now up 8.0 seconds behind the Belgian.

Subaru works driver Chris Atkinson retired from the Wales Rally GB after crashing on SS7.The Australian spun the car approximately 7km into the Crychan stage, and dropped into a ditch. Although the car was not badly damaged, he was unable to recover his Impreza.

Mitsubishi's Gigi Galli and Citroen privateer Manfred Stohl have benefited from Atkinson's retirement and Toni Gardemeister's disqualification to move into the final points-paying positions.

Former World champion Colin McRae has moved up to 11th but is now 0.9 seconds behind his protege Kris Meeke in last year's Subaru Impreza in 10th.

Standings after SS9:

Pos  Driver     Make        Time
 1.  Loeb       Citroen     1:46:21.1
 2.  Solberg    Subaru      +    33.7
 3.  Rovanpera  Mitsubishi  +  1:11.8
 4.  Gronholm   Peugeot     +  1:29.5
 5.  Duval      Citroen     +  1:47.2
 6.  Martin     Peugeot     +  1:55.2
 7.  Galli      Mitsubishi  +  2:19.2
 8.  Stohl      Citroen     +  2:35.5
 9.  Kresta     Ford        +  3:01.2
10.  Meeke      Subaru      +  3:09.2
11.  Mcrae      Skoda       +  3:10.1
12.  Higgins    Ford        +  3:15.9
13.  Warmbold   Ford        +  3:22.0
14.  Solberg    Ford        +  3:32.3
15.  Latvala    Ford        +  5:34.5

All Timing Unofficial
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