Loeb Takes Charge in Turkey

Citroen's championship leader Sebastien Loeb built up a 17.3-second lead in the Rally of Turkey after winning the first two stages on Friday

Loeb Takes Charge in Turkey

The Frenchman, winner of four of the season's six rallies, was a comfortable 13 seconds ahead of Mitsubishi's Italian Gianluigi Galli in the first stage of the day in the southern Anatolian mountains.

Galli was then 4.3 seconds slower than the champion in the next Arykanda 1 stage and was second overall, with Subaru's Norwegian hope Petter Solberg running in third place a further 7.2 seconds adrift.

"The stages were damp and a bit muddier than we had expected," Solberg said. "Our tyre was more suited to dry conditions but it's getting warmer now so we're hoping things will get better later on."

Spaniard Carlos Sainz, winner of more world championship rallies than any other driver, made a strong start to his one-off return from retirement as a replacement at Citroen for crash-prone Belgian Francois Duval.

The twice world champion, winner in Turkey two years ago, was in joint seventh place after two stages.

The Peugeot duo of twice champion Marcus Gronholm of Finland and Estonian Markko Martin were fourth and fifth.

Australian Chris Atkinson retired after damaging the fuel tank of his Subaru when he ran wide on a right-hand corner and hit rocks 500 metres from the finish of the day's second stage.

The incident also damaged the car's left rear wheel and suspension, Atkinson returning to the service area on three wheels with co-driver Glenn MacNeall hanging out of the window as a counter-balance.

The rally, based around the village of Kemer near the resort of Antalya on the southern Mediterranean coast, started with stage two on Friday after Thursday's scheduled sprint opener was cancelled by organisers.

Loeb, winner in Turkey last year, leads the championship with 45 points. Solberg and Martin both have 34.

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