Loeb maintains perfect stage record

Sebastien Loeb continued his 100 per cent record of stage victories on the Ralle de France by winning the final two stages on the second leg

Loeb maintains perfect stage record

Loeb's four stage victories today means he has won all eight stages held so far in his home rally, which he has never won previously.

The Citroen driver now holds a commanding one and half minute lead over Ford's Toni Gardemeister with just four stages left to run tomorrow. If Loeb wins, he will extend his current record of most victories in one season to nine.

Gardemeister has edged further away from Subaru's Petter Solberg in the battle for second despite a puncture sustained in SS7. He now holds a 24.6-second advantage over the Norwegian.

However, both of their positions could be under threat tomorrow as Francois Duval made a fight back through the field. The Belgian suffered brake problems during the opening two tests of the day but was second only to Loeb in the final two stages, taking back fourth from Stephane Sarrazin.

Duval is now 24.6 seconds behind Solberg and just under 50 seconds behind Gardemeister, and if he continues his strong stage performances tomorrow, the battle for second will be tight.

With Peugeot's only remaining driving of Nicolas Bernardi running tenth, even if Duval doesn't improve any further, Citroen will clinch the manufacturers title. Bernardi achieved his best stage result in of the event with fourth on SS8.

Barring disaster, Sarrazin seems assured of a top-five finish with a minute and a half gap back to the sixth-placed Ford of Roman Kresta.

Mitsubishi had a tough final stage when both Gigi Galli and Gilles Panizzi developed problems. Galli lost fourth gear and was a half a minute off Loeb's pace, and Panizzi stopped approximately three kilometres from the end of the stage with engine problems.

Top 20 leaderboard after leg two:

Pos  Driver        Make          Time
 1.  Loeb          Citroen       2h 38:10.7
 2.  Gardemeister  Ford          +   1:30.5
 3.  Solberg       Subaru        +   1:55.1
 4.  Duval         Citroen       +   2:19.7
 5.  Sarrazin      Subaru        +   2:27.7
 6.  Kresta        Ford          +   3:56.1
 7.  Bengue        Skoda         +   4:41.9
 8.  Pons          Citroen       +   4:44.6
 9.  Galli         Mitsubishi    +   5:26.8
10.  Bernardi      Peugeot       +   5:53.8
11.  Rovanpera     Mitsubishi    +   7:02.5
12.  Kopecky       Skoda         +   8:44.4
13.  Vouilloz      Skoda         +   9:17.7
14.  Warmbold      Ford          +  10:15.2
15.  Panizzi       Mitsubishi    +  14:51.6
16.  Baldacci      Fiat          +  15:00.3
17.  Sola          Ford          +  18:04.1
18.  Katajamaki    Suzuki        +  18:10.2
19.  Latvala       Subaru        +  18:20.3
20.  Betti         Renault       +  18:24.3
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