Ogier still leads but Loeb closes in

Sebastien Ogier continues to lead the Rally of Portugal, but factory Citroen drivers Sebastien Loeb and Dani Sordo have cut his advantage as the Citroen Junior man runs first on the road

Ogier still leads but Loeb closes in

Though Ogier started the day 26 seconds clear of Sordo and 44s ahead of Loeb, he knew that margin was certain to be eroded as he cleaned the dusty stages for those behind.

Sure enough, Loeb won the first two stages of the morning, bringing him up to second and reducing Ogier's lead to 22.9s.

But the younger Frenchman was quite content with how things were going.

"We will hold on at midday, but it's going to be difficult this afternon," Ogier said. "But I think we did a great morning with no mistakes and a great rhythm, but it's difficult to be first on the road."

Loeb, who is just half a second ahead of Sordo, felt he should have taken more out of Ogier's lead on the last stage of the loop.

"We are trying to take some time from Seb. But in this one I was not so confident and it was not a very good drive," Loeb admitted. "It's difficult to say why. A little mistake in the watersplash at the start and I lost a bit of confidence. I will continue to do all I can do."

Petter Solberg is fourth and trying to keep the works Citroens in sight. Winning SS10 helped his cause.

"I really had a good feeling. I had a little bit of a problem with the intercom through the stage so it was not so easy," said Solberg. "But the car is working very well and if I've taken a little bit out of Loeb then I'm happy. I just have to get a little bit closer to Loeb. But I'm working on it, I'm on the case."

While Citroen now occupies the top four places, it has been a very bad morning for the works Ford team. Jari-Matti Latvala crashed out of sixth when he spun early in SS9 and damaged the rear of his car against a tree. Mikko Hirvonen is still running, but an increasingly distant and puzzled fifth.

"One or two small mistakes and maybe that's what slows me down, but that's all," said Hirvonen. "Apart from those mistakes, I thought it went really well. They must be pushing very hard."

Pos Driver Car Time/Gap 1. Sebastien Ogier Citroen 2h05m52.5s 2. Sebastien Loeb Citroen + 22.9s 3. Dani Sordo Citroen + 23.4s 4. Petter Solberg Citroen + 33.9s 5. Mikko Hirvonen Ford + 44.5s 6. Henning Solberg Ford + 2m11.5s 7. Matthew Wilson Ford + 3m09.2s 8. Mads Ostberg Subaru + 3m30.2s 9. Kimi Raikkonen Citroen + 4m59.7s 10. Federico Villagra Ford + 5m33.1s 
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