Loeb takes lead, Gronholm crashes

Sebastien Loeb won all three of Rally Portugal's Saturday morning stages to take the lead of the event away from Ford's Mikko Hirvonen

Loeb takes lead, Gronholm crashes

Loeb lost more than 20 seconds and dropped to fourth place after overshooting the first corner of SS2 yesterday, but three consecutive quickest times today have lifted the reigning champion to the head of the leaderboard.

Hirvonen and Dani Sordo traded seconds throughout the morning but Sordo lost 16 seconds to Hirvonen on SS10 and is now more than 30 seconds adrift of second place.

Marcus Gronholm's strong return to the WRC ended in tears on today's first stage when he crashed out of fourth place.

He damaged the front end of his Subaru Impreza in the accident and was forced to park the car with a soaring engine temperature and low oil pressure.

Gronholm's downfall handed fourth place to Petter Solberg, well clear of Matt Wilson fifth and Henning Solberg sixth.

Sebastien Ogier joined Gronholm on the retirement list when he surrendered his sixth place with a broken steering arm.

Citroen Junior Team driver Evgeny Novikov ran as high as sixth after setting the fourth fastest time on SS8. But the Russian dropped to eighth after a crash on SS9 left him with some bodywork damage and a front right puncture, and cost him nearly two minutes.

Leading positions after SS10: Pos Driver Car Time 1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 2:10:24.7 2. Mikko Hirvonen Ford +6.9 3. Dani Sordo Citroen +37.5 4. Petter Solberg Citroen +1:25.5 5. Matthew Wilson Ford +2:12.2 6. Henning Solberg Ford +2:33.2 7. Mads Ostberg Subaru +3:43.8 8. Evgeny Novikov Citroen +3:45.3 9. Conrad Rautenbach Citroen +5:08.7 10. Federico Villagra Ford +6:56.8 
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