Loeb Maintains Commanding Lead

Peugeot's Markko Martin became the first non-Citroen runner to win a stage in the Rally Deutschland this morning - but Sebastien Loeb still maintained his commanding lead

Loeb Maintains Commanding Lead

Loeb now has just three stages to go - or just under 50 km - between him and his eighth WRC victory of the season, with a 36.5 second lead over teammate Francois Duval.

Martin was 0.8 seconds quicker than the rest of the field in SS16, the first of today's runnings through the 13.68km stage of Birkenfelder Land. However, it does not affect his current position of fourth place.

Duval has stretched his gap back to third placed Marcus Gronholm to one and a half minutes, and Martin's stage win has done little to eat into the two minutes Gronholm holds over him for third.

The battle of the day was always going to be between Ford's Roman Kresta and Mitsubishi's Gigi Galli. Kresta was fastest in two of this morning stages, SS14 and SS16, however Galli has narrowed the gap overall to just 0.6 seconds after being much faster than the Czech driver through SS14.

Stephane Sarrazin is looking more comfortable in sixth place after securing the best non-Citroen time through SS14.

Petter Solberg had a mixed morning in his quest for the final points-paying slot after spinning early in SS14. He lost approximately 20 seconds in the stage thanks to the spin, but took the position from Ford privateer Daniel Sola in the next stage after the Spaniard went off into a ditch.

Sola went off an a left hand corner close to the start and tried to rejoin the stage by cutting across a field, however he drove into a ditch and was stuck for seven minutes.

Top 20 leaderboard after SS16:

Pos Driver Make Time 1. Loeb Citroen 3h 03:12.6 2. Duval Citroen + 36.5 3. Gronholm Peugeot + 2:06.3 4. Martin Peugeot + 4:07.1 5. Kresta Ford + 5:08.5 6. Galli Mitsubishi + 5:09.1 7. Sarrazin Subaru + 7:16.1 8. Solberg Subaru + 7:55.8 9. Rovanpera Mitsubishi + 8:42.5 10. Pons Citroen + 8:52.1 11. Atkinson Subaru + 10:18.9 12. Sola Ford + 16:29.9 13. Sordo Citroen + 17:29.5 14. Meeke Citroen + 19:20.1 15. Wilks Suzuki + 21:52.4 16. Andersson Suzuki + 22:25.1 17. Gassner Mitsubishi + 23:23.8 18. Katajamaki Suzuki + 23:31.5 19. Gardemeister Ford + 25:31.5 20. Fahrner Opel + 26:07.3 
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