Rally GB: Solberg fights back

Subaru's Petter Solberg has applied the pressure to Citroen's Sebastien Loeb once again as he eats into the Frenchman's lead with just two stages of the second leg of this weekend's Wales Rally GB left to run

Rally GB: Solberg fights back

Solberg had a lacklustre start to today's (Saturday) second leg failing to match the pace of rally leader Loeb in the first three stages of the day. After closing the gap to the Frenchman at the end of play on Friday to just 8.4s, Solberg saw himself slip back as Loeb fought to increase his margin at the top.

Loeb took the first stage win of the day pipping Peugeot's Marcus Gronholm by just 0.1s. But that's as good as it got for the Finn today for he crashed out on the following stage - the treacherous SS9 Epynt 1 test - hitting a pole. He repaired his car but complained of severe handling problems and called it a day soon after.

With Gronholm out the way it has become a two-way fight for victory as Solberg tries to defend what has become his territory for the past two years. Whether it was because Gronholm was out of the picture, or maybe he found some form, but Solberg is now on a charge to catch Loeb once again. The Norwegian has taken two stage wins this afternoon whittling the gap between himself and the Frenchman to just 10s.

Ford's Markko Martin is up to third place following Gronholm's retirement, what was a safe position, though, has now come under threat after the Estonian encountered problems on SS13, the second run through Halfway. Martin's engine is down on power and the team have been unable to pin-point the problem over the radio. It means a 42s cushion over Citroen's Carlos Sainz has now become just 16s.

Ford's Francois Duval, while down in fifth spot, has impressed in the two Epynt stages - SS9 and SS12. As other drivers slid around the route, the Belgian pushed through with consummate ease to clock the fastest time on both occasions.

Subaru's Mikko Hirvonen has maintained his sixth place ahead of Peugeot's Harri Rovanpera while Mark Higgins holds onto eighth spot in the Ford Focus WRC.

The crews now head for service with the next stage - the SS14 Margam 1 - set to start at 16:09BST.

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