SS12 : Stunning Loeb builds Finland lead
Ogier and Latvala vow to fight back
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|
|07||D. SORDO / C. DEL BARRIO||MINI WRC||+1m55.5s|
|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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