Loeb leaves rivals in his wake

Sebastien Loeb has stretched his Rally of France lead to 42.9 seconds, with a stunning performance on the event's longest stage pulling him comfortably clear of his rivals

Loeb leaves rivals in his wake

Amid varying grip from both rainfall and mud being pulled onto the roads, the reigning champion beat nearest rival and Citroen team-mate Dani Sordo by 18s on the 35-kilometre Pays d'Ormont, the third of this morning's four stages. Loeb admitted he had put on a charge to try and give himself a safety margin this afternoon, when the stage conditions are expected to even worse.

"It was a good morning, we were pushing hard in some stages, but it's so tricky," he said. "Also I think in some parts I'm putting some mud on for other cars, so there is time from that. I've tried to make a difference in the morning because I know this afternoon will be difficult."

Sordo lost a little time when he stalled at the start of Pays d'Ormont, but he benefited from the pursuing Sebastien Ogier going off the road on the same stage. The Citroen Junior driver continued having fallen 17s behind Sordo.

"I made a mistake - I lost control of the car on the brakes, I went straight and I hit a tree," said Ogier. "But it's okay, luckily there was not a lot of damage on my car.

"It's a shame because I had very good speed and I was able to come close to Dani. Now it's a big gap. But the rally is still long."

Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala also went off course on Pays d'Ormont, and had already lost fourth place to Petter Solberg (Solberg Citroen) on the previous stages. But he took a commanding win on the Salm stage and moved back to within 7.5s of Solberg.

"It's because we are driving on gravel on tarmac tyres, so I think that's helping me," said Latvala of his Salm performance, which saw him half a second per kilometre faster than anyone else. "We took a few risks, because Petter is pushing very hard now."

His team-mate Mikko Hirvonen remains sixth, with Munchi's Ford driver Federico Villagra up to seventh after Kimi Raikkonen went off on SS10 and lost nearly 40 minutes. Stobart Ford's Matthew Wilson was closing on Villagra for a while but is now 33s behind again.

With Ken Block (Monster Ford) delayed by a hydraulic issue in service this morning and Khalid Al Qassimi losing time with an incident on SS11, the leading S2000 cars of Henning Solberg and Eyvind Brynildsen are now running in the overall top 10.

Pos Driver Car Time/Gap 1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 2h01m19.4s 2. Dani Sordo Citroen + 42.9s 3. Sebastien Ogier Citroen + 59.8s 4. Petter Solberg Citroen + 1m22.1s 5. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 1m29.6s 6. Mikko Hirvonen Ford + 3m15.6s 7. Federico Villagra Ford + 9m59.6s 8. Matthew Wilson Ford + 10m32.7s 9. Henning Solberg Ford + 12m01.3s 10. Eyvind Brynildsen Skoda + 12m24.8s 
shares
comments
Q & A: Muller on his WRC outing

Previous article

Q & A: Muller on his WRC outing

Next article

Ford delighted with Latvala's pace

Ford delighted with Latvala's pace
Load comments
How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain Plus

How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain

While all pre-event chat focused on the two World Rally Championship title fighters, their closest challenger charged into the spotlight on Rally Spain. Thierry Neuville's star turn and another strong drive from Elfyn Evans in his fight with Sebastien Ogier made for an intriguing event as the 2021 campaign nears its crunch point

WRC
Oct 18, 2021
The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0 Plus

The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0

Two decades after Petter Solberg emerged as a World Rally Championship winner, his son Oliver is ready to take the WRC by storm. Having secured a part-time WRC factory drive for Hyundai in 2022, he's raring to repay the marque's faith in him and follow in his 2003 champion father's footsteps

WRC
Oct 14, 2021
Analysing the key moves in WRC’s 2022 silly season Plus

Analysing the key moves in WRC’s 2022 silly season

The World Rally Championship will step into a new hybrid era in 2022, but the car changes haven't been the only excitement that has built within the paddock. WRC's 'silly season' kicked off in a big way and all the key driver moves for 2022 - of which there are many - look set to shake things up

WRC
Oct 13, 2021
How joining Finland’s exclusive club was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age Plus

How joining Finland’s exclusive club was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age

By his own admission, the fifth World Rally Championship victory of Elfyn Evans' career in Finland last weekend was the drive of his life. Winning five stages in a row and soaking up huge pressure from the Hyundais on the fastest gravel stages around, the Welshman put in a faultless showing that proved what he is truly made of

WRC
Oct 4, 2021
Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant? Plus

Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant?

OPINION: Thierry Neuville's diatribe against the upcoming Rally1-spec machines that will usher in the World Rally Championship's new hybrid era was remarkable in an era where drivers are usually reticent to air their views in public. But are the Belgian's concerns about speed, safety and cost entirely valid?

WRC
Sep 16, 2021
How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains Plus

How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains

After Kalle Rovanpera’s historic feat at Rally Estonia, the Finn scaled new heights at the Rally of the Gods with a commanding victory. And this time Toyota’s young star demonstrated why the future is bright with his devastating speed and consistency at the Acropolis Rally

WRC
Sep 13, 2021
The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally Plus

The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally

Five drivers have won first time out at the Rally Acropolis, transcending the tough dirt and gravel Greek roads to cement a place in rallying folklore. Here are three of the first-time winners' tales

WRC
Sep 9, 2021
Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble Plus

Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble

From being considered a likely contender to drive the next-generation M-Sport Ford Puma in 2022, Teemu Suninen's abrupt exit has created plenty of questions. The Finn's bid to become his country's next World Rally Championship winner won't be furthered by being sidelined, but there may be reason behind the decision

WRC
Sep 2, 2021