Loeb Leads in Cyprus After SS3

Sebastien Loeb has taken the lead of the Rally Cyprus, having recorded the fastest time on two of this morning's three stages

Loeb Leads in Cyprus After SS3

The Citroen driver finished the first loop 12.3 seconds ahead of Petter Solberg, as the hot conditions and rough stages affected most of the contenders.

"We had a little problem with the handbrake," Loeb said, "and I stalled twice near the start of the first stage. Then I decided not to use the handbrake. I spoke with the engineers after the stage and fixed the problem. It wasn't as rough as I had expected, but I'm trying to drive neat and tidy and not slide the car too much, which helps with the tyres."

Solberg, who won the day's first stage, suffered clutch and overheating problems and currently lies second. His Subaru lost the anti-lag system and lacked turbo boost on all three stages.

Ford's Toni Gardemeister lies third, having finished the loop more than 45 seconds behind Loeb. Manfred Stohl is in fourth place despite reverting to manual gear-shift when his paddle-shift failed.

Both Peugeot drivers hit problems on the first stage. Markko Martin sustained a puncture and lost a minute and 40 seconds after a tyre delaminated. But it was worse fate for Marcus Gronholm, who retired with timing belt failure. The Finn is likely to restart the rally tomorrow with more than a 30-minute penalty.

Subaru's Chris Atkinson also retired after suffering clutch problems. The Australian limped home on SS2, but the problem became terminal on SS3.

Mitsubishi's Gilles Panizzi lost more than 20 minutes after stopping to fix engine traumas on SS1. His situation was compounded when he lost third gear for SS2 and SS3.

Rally Cyprus leader board after SS3 (Asinou 1)

Pos Driver Make Time 1. Loeb Citroen 1h01:12.6 2. Solberg Subaru + 12.3 3. Gardemeister Ford + 45.5 4. Stohl Citroen + 1:01.5 5. Rovanpera Mitsubishi + 1:02.3 6. Solberg Ford + 1:29.9 7. Kresta Ford + 1:48.3 8. Carlsson Peugeot + 1:52.2 9. Warmbold Ford + 1:54.2 10. Martin Peugeot + 2:10.1 11. Tuohino Skoda + 2:21.8 12. Schwarz Skoda + 2:58.3 13. Duval Citroen + 3:20.4 
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