Loeb on the verge of title

World Rally Championship leader Sebastien Loeb is on course to clinch his first title, at his home event, if he can maintain his third place in the Rally de France during the final leg tomorrow (Sunday)

Loeb on the verge of title

The French Citroen ace commands a 1m20s advantage over his team-mate Carlos Sainz, who is currently running fourth overall. Ford drivers Markko Martin and Francois Duval, who are first and second in the event, may be all but uncatchable to Loeb now, but all the Frenchman realistically has to do to clinch the title is stay on the road. Nevertheless Loeb is taking no chances.

"I have to keep my concentration," he said. "It will be necessary if tomorrow's leg is like the one we had today.

"However, I must say that I am not displeased to have managed to maintain my pace in the difficult sections, pushing just as much as was necessary to keep my tyres working properly. I will try to continue along the same lines tomorrow. But don't talk to me about the title before two pm tomorrow!"

Loeb's only challenger for the title is the reigning world champion Petter Solberg, but the Norweigen has had a miserable time in Corsica and currently lies sixth overall, four and a half minutes off the lead.

The Subaru star needed a win to have any realistic chance of retaining his title, and with Loeb holding a 26-point lead over him with two rounds to go, all hope would seem to be lost. Even if Loeb was to retire, Solberg would still have to claw his way back up to third past Peugeot ace Marcus Gronholm and the points leader's team-mate Sainz.

"It's been a very difficult day for us again," said Solberg. "The frustrating thing is that the car feels good and we've seen glimpses of the pace we need, but at the end of the day we just can't catch the leaders.

"We've tried everything possible today and we'll keep doing the same tomorrow. Hopefully we can learn something. I'll keep focused on the job and do all I can, there isn't really much more to say.

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