Sebastien Loeb charges clear in Finland despite running first on the road

Sebastien Loeb is pulling away in the Rally Finland lead despite running first on the road on the final morning

Sebastien Loeb charges clear in Finland despite running first on the road

The top three's tactical games of Friday evening had placed Loeb back in first place, with just 2.6 seconds covering the champion, his Citroen team-mate Sebastien Ogier and Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala.

But ironically given their collective reluctance to lead the order today, opening the road proved to be no disadvantage for Loeb at all, as slightly damp conditions and some incredible driving saw him kick off with two stage wins and outpace Ogier on four of this morning's five tests.

By the end of SS16, Isojarvi, Loeb's lead had grown to 10.8s over Ogier and 20s over Latvala.

"I think I had a perfect morning," said Loeb. "I couldn't have gone faster on any stage really. We are happy with what we've done.

"It's still very close so we'll see how it goes in the afternoon now. It was a perfect drive. For me sometimes the conditions were really difficult."

Petter Solberg has continued to struggle to match the leaders' pace in his Citroen and is now just over a minute adrift. He is being caught by Stobart Ford's Mads Ostberg, but both are being rapidly reeled in by Mikko Hirvonen, with the works Ford driver winning three stages this morning to close to within 6s of Ostberg's fifth place and 21.2s of Solberg in fourth.

While Dani Sordo's Mini is still seventh, his team-mate Kris Meeke's lack of experience of the Finnish roads in top-level cars is starting to show and he has dropped behind Henning Solberg (Stobart) and Kimi Raikkonen (Ice 1 Citroen) to 10th, with Matthew Wilson closing on him in the third Stobart Ford.

Leading positions after SS16: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 2h03m03.0s 2. Sebastien Ogier Citroen + 10.8s 3. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 20.0s 4. Petter Solberg Solberg Citroen + 1m12.0s 5. Mads Ostberg Stobart Ford + 1m27.1s 6. Mikko Hirvonen Ford + 1m33.2s 7. Dani Sordo Mini + 2m11.2s 8. Henning Solberg Stobart Ford + 2m58.0s 9. Kimi Raikkonen Ice 1 Citroen + 3m02.6s 10. Kris Meeke Mini + 3m12.1s 
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Sebastien Loeb leads ultra-close Rally Finland battle amid tactical games

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Sebastien Loeb leads into closing stages of Rally Finland

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