Loeb Takes Command in Argentina

WRC Championship leader Sebastien Loeb has taken control of the Rally Argentina at the halfway stage of the first day proper of the Rally Argentina

Loeb Takes Command in Argentina

Loeb won three of this morning's four stages, overhauling early leader Petter Solberg on the longest stage of the rally, the 28.74km stage from Ascochinga to La Cumbre on SS5.

Searching for his sixth consecutive victory, Loeb was 3.8 seconds faster than Solberg through that stage, and now holds an 8.3-second advantage over the Norwegian. Solberg had started brightly, winning the days first stage, before Loeb piled on the pressure.

Marcus Gronholm remains the only other driver within striking distance of Loeb. However the Finn is currently 30.2 seconds behind the Frenchman, hanging on to the hope that the Frenchman hits trouble on this afternoon's re-run of this morning's stages.

Ford's Toni Gardemeister demonstrated the consistency that is behind his current third place in the championship. Despite recording stage times never higher than fifth this morning, the results of those around him means the Finn rests in fourth position, 48.2 seconds behind Gronholm.

Gardemeister is joined in the battle for fourth by Peugeot's Marko Martin and Mitsubishi's Harri Rovanpera, with just 8.9 seconds separating the trio.

Rovanpera would be higher than sixth if it wasn't for a spin on SS4, which cost him more than 39 seconds on the stage to winner Loeb.

Mitsubishi's Gig Galli was up to fourth position before transmission problems and broken suspension put him out on SS5. The Italian could restart the rally tomorrow under superrally regulations, but it is a bitter blow to the Japanese team, who had started the event so strongly.

Subaru's Chris Atkinson, privateer Citroen driver Manfred Stohl and works Citroen driver Francois Duval are involved in another close battle, for seventh. Only 4.3 seconds covers the trio.

Skoda's WRC woes continued with Janni Paasonen retired from the after grinding to a halt on SS4. Teammate Armin Schwarz is in 15th position.

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