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SS12 : Stunning Loeb builds Finland lead

Ogier and Latvala vow to fight back


By www.wrc.com

30 July 2011 - 07:47
SS12 : Stunning Loeb builds Finland (...)

Sebastien Loeb has set a staggering pace on Saturday’s first stage to maintain his lead of Neste Oil Rally Finland.

Loeb had been expected to lose time running first on the road but made the most of his vast experience and blinding pace to go 6.4s quicker than his Citroen team-mate Sebastien Ogier.

“That’s not so bad, I was pushing like hell,” said the seven-time champion. “I knew I would not have an advantage today so I had to try and tried really, really hard. I was pushing on the limit everywhere. We have to continue like this.”

Ogier said: “He did a very good stage, not so bad for us, not so good as well. But it’s okay, it’s not finished. The rally will be long and I will try to fight back.”

Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala’s bid to win his home rally suffered a blow when he slipped 13.3s behind Loeb after struggling to make his mark on the damp roads.

“Third was not the best place to be,” said Latvala. “The moisture in the night has made the road damp and it’s really slippery. There was nothing more I was able to do. We really need the sun to dry the road.”

Mads Ostberg reduced his gap to fourth-placed Petter Solberg with a strong performance. He is now 25.3s behind his countryman. Mikko Hirvonen continues to close on Ostberg in his factory Ford Fiesta but admitted he couldn’t have gone any faster through Leustu.

01 S. LOEB / D. ELENA Citroën DS3 WRC 1h39m14.4s
02 S. OGIER / J. INGRASSIA Citroën DS3 WRC +7.9s
03 J. LATVALA / M. ANTTILA Ford Fiesta RS WRC +13.3s
04 P. SOLBERG / C. PATTERSSON Citroën DS3 WRC +48.1s
05 M. ØSTBERG / J. ANDERSSON Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1m13.4s
06 M. HIRVONEN / J. LEHTINEN Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1m37.0s
08 K. MEEKE / P. NAGLE MINI WRC +2m25.7s
09 H. SOLBERG / I. MINOR Ford Fiesta RS WRC +2m28.7s
10 J. HANNINEN / M. MARKKULA Skoda Fabia S2000 +2m40.3s
11 M. WILSON / S. MARTIN Ford Fiesta RS WRC +2m41.8s
12 K. RAIKKONEN / K. LINDSTRÖM Citroën DS3 WRC +2m42.2s
13 M. PROKOP / J. TOMÁNEK FORD Fiesta S2000 +4m13.1s
14 D. KUIPERS / F. MICLOTTE Ford Fiesta RS WRC +4m24.4s
15 A. MIKKELSEN / O. FLOENE SKODA Fabia S2000 +5m18.3s


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