Loeb on Way to 4th Win

Citroen's Championship leader Sebastien Loeb turned the Rally of Turkey into a battle for second place on Saturday as he headed steadily towards his fourth win in a row

Loeb on Way to 4th Win

The overnight leader led Peugeot's Marcus Gronholm by a hefty 1:11.2 after 12 of the 18 stages in the Anatolian mountains near the Mediterranean resort of Antalya.

The Champion, winner of four of the season's six rounds, was only fourth fastest on the 10th Kemer 1 stage that opened Saturday's second leg but hit back with the quickest time on the next one.

Twice Champion Gronholm and Subaru's Petter Solberg fought for second place with the Norwegian just 3.2 seconds behind the Peugeot driver after winning two of the morning's opening three stages.

"No problem with anything," said Solberg after the day's second stage. "These were the first two stages where we've made the correct tyre choice.

"The first stage was still damp in places but, compared to yesterday, it felt completely different and that's purely down to the tyres."

With Loeb in a race of his own, nobody was close to challenging Gronholm and Solberg either.

Spain's former Champion Carlos Sainz, coming out of a retirement for a one-off comeback with Citroen as a replacement for crash-prone Belgian Francois Duval, was fourth but one minute 11.5 seconds adrift of Solberg.

The 43-year-old, winner in Turkey two years ago, was also a minute and 21 seconds ahead of fifth placed Finn Toni Gardemeister in a Ford.

Estonian Markko Martin was sixth for Peugeot.

Italian Gianluigi Galli, second overnight and the only driver other than Loeb to win a stage on Friday, fell out of the reckoning after losing more than eight minutes with a disconnected turbo pipe in his Mitsubishi. He was 10th.

"I'm not bothered," said the Italian, still delighted to have led a World Championship rally for the first time.

"We're just further down the order than before. Whatever happens, the team have done a fantastic job."

Loeb leads the Championship with 45 points, while Solberg and Martin both have 34. Peugeot are top of the manufacturers' standings with 62 points to Citroen's 53.

 

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