Loeb on Course to Ninth Win

Sebastien Loeb dominated the second day of the Wales Rally GB, winning six of the day's seven stages

Loeb on Course to Ninth Win

Loeb started the day only 9.9 seconds ahead of Petter Solberg, but his performance through today's military ground stages allowed him to extend his lead to 44.7 seconds.

The Citroen driver has to safely negotiate just four stages tomorrow - or 113km - to extend his already record-breaking victory tally to nine events in a season. It would be his first victory of the British round of the Championship after he famously missed out on the win last year to Solberg on the final stage.

Loeb said: "The car is perfect, but I can tell from the split times we were doing enough to stay on top of Petter."

Solberg's best stage performance of the afternoon came on SS10, Crychan 2. The Norwegian had settled for second earlier in the day after admitting that he had to rely on a mistake from Loeb if he was to take victory. "I've tried hard all day but we haven't done well enough," he said.

Marcus Gronholm moved into third position after Harri Rovanpera hit trouble. Rovanpera's Mitsubishi lost third gear on SS12 and the Finn lost half a minute on and dropped back to fifth. Rovanpera said: "I lost third gear completely and most of the corners were third and fourth gear."

Gronholm said he was backing off now that he has third place secured, and he won't go in pursuit of Solberg tomorrow, who lies 45.1 seconds up the road. "We're thinking about the manufacturers' Championship now, so I can't take any risks. It is too dry for me, I prefer normal Rally GB weather."

Francois Duval has moved up to fourth, ahead of Rovanpera. The Belgian recorded the second fastest time though SS11, Epynt 2, and has pulled away from rival Markko Martin. He now holds a half-minute advantage over the Estonian in sixth.

Mitsubishi's Gigi Galli damaged his left-rear wheel on SS12 but continues to hold seventh. "I don't know what happened," he said. "The wheel feels like it almost hanging off."

The Italian still holds seventh overnight, ahead of Citroen privateer Manfred Stohl. Ford's leading contender Roman Kresta is in ninth, despite taking out the inflatable finishing gantry in front of 21,500 people at the Millennium Stadium Superspecial.

Colin McRae has moved up to eleventh despite struggling with gear selection problems in the morning. The former World Rally Champion had to switch to the manual shift as opposed to his normal semi-automatic on his Skoda Fabia through the morning stages. This gave him the ergonomic problem of reaching the gear-shift successfully with the movement-restricting HANS device, which is now mandatory in the WRC.

The problem was fixed at service, and McRae felt more comfortable to move back ahead of protege Kris Meeke. He lost tenth to fellow Briton Mark Higgins, after the privateer Focus driver took a surprise stage victory in the Millennium Stadium.

Subaru's third driver Stephane Sarrazin retired from the event on SS8, after overshooting a junction and going into a ditch. Subaru confirmed he will restart the event tomorrow.

Top 15 leaderboard at the end of Leg Two:

Pos  Driver      Make         Time
 1.  Loeb        Citroen      2h 15:12.7
 2.  P.Solberg   Subaru       +     54.7
 3.  Gronholm    Peugeot      +   1:39.8
 4.  Duval       Citroen      +   2:03.2
 5.  Rovanpera   Mitsubishi   +   2:03.9
 6.  Martin      Peugeot      +   2:34.4
 7.  Galli       Mitsubishi   +   2:54.2
 8.  Stohl       Citroen      +   3:11.3
 9.  Kresta      Ford         +   3:47.9
10.  Higgins     Ford         +   4:00.1
11.  Mcrae       Skoda        +   4:01.5
12.  Meeke       Subaru       +   4:07.5
13.  Warmbold    Ford         +   4:20.4
14.  H.Solberg   Ford         +   4:39.9
15.  Pons        Citroen      +   4:50.3
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