Loeb Leads despite Penalty

The battle for the Wales Rally GB remains wide open after Sebastien Loeb received a ten-second penalty for being late out of time control

Loeb Leads despite Penalty

The Frenchman, who is looking for his ninth win of the season, extended his lead from 10.3 seconds at lunch to more than 19.9 seconds by the end of the leg over Subaru's Petter Solberg.

However, he was awarded a ten-second time penalty for being a minute late out of TC3, dropping his advantage over Solberg down to 9.9 seconds.

The stages dried out further since this morning, which allowed the Citroen driver to go through the Brechfa stage 28 seconds faster than his morning's time.

Second-placed Solberg reckoned he chose the wrong tyres as he slipped back from Loeb, although he did claw back five seconds to him on SS6.

The Norwegian said:  "I chose the wrong tyres on the three last stages and we tried to do a clever move but it didn't work well. We will go on the attack tomorrow."

The other driver capable of matching Loeb on the afternoon's stages was Peugeot's Marcus Gronholm. The Finn, recovering from brake problems which lost him a minute and 20 seconds this morning, won SS5 and SS6 to claw back 20 seconds from Loeb during the afternoon.

He still ended the day a minute behind Loeb but the Finn's charge has shot him up the leaderboard, recovering from 17th at lunch to just edge out Francois Duval on SS6, and take fourth by 1.3 seconds.

Harri Rovanpera continued his impressive performance for Mitsubishi despite problems with the rear steering arm on SS5. Rovanpera and co-driver Risto Pietilainen got out and fixed the problem, and were rewarded with third quickest during SS6, and third place overall overnight.

Australia's Chris Atkinson, who revised his pace notes to ensure he missed some logs during this afternoon's second loop, damaged the front-left of his car on SS6. The Subaru driver is now nine seconds behind Duval.

Henning Solberg and Markko Martin round out the points paying positions.

Results after Leg One:

Pos Driver Make Time 1. Loeb Citroen 1h 18:12.0 (*) 10-sec penaly included 2. Solberg Subaru + 9.9 3. Rovanpera Mitsubishi + 31.5 4. Gronholm Peugeot + 1:11.1 5. Duval Citroen + 1:12.4 6. Atkinson Subaru + 1:21.3 7. Solberg Ford + 1:21.9 8. Martin Peugeot + 1:26.7 9. Gardemeister Ford + 1:27.1 10. Galli Mitsubishi + 1:34.2 11. Stohl Citroen + 1:47.3 12. Kresta Ford + 1:54.7 13. McRae Skoda + 2:02.6 14. Meeke Subaru + 2:03.6 15. Warmbold Ford + 2:07.0 16. Latvala Ford + 2:09.0 17. Higgins Ford + 2:23.0 18. Sarrazin Subaru + 2:23.3 19. Pons Citroen + 2:41.4 20. Bernardi Peugeot + 4:44.3
All Timing Unofficial

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Series WRC
Drivers Sébastien Loeb
Author Tim Redmayne
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