SS5 : Loeb extends Finland’s advantage
As Hirvonen sets the pace
Sebastien Loeb has hit back in the battle for victory on Neste Oil Rally Finland by beating his Citroen team-mate Sebastien Ogier on Friday’s second stage.
Ogier had narrowed Loeb’s advantage on the previous run but had no answer to Loeb’s pace on the 8.90-kilometre Evo test after Loeb benefited from a slightly compacted road surface following overnight rain.
“I’m pushing very hard and being first on the road is not bad because the condition of the road is quite good,” said Loeb, who is now 4.9s in front of Ogier in the overall classification. “But the battle is very close,” he added.
Ogier said: “It is maybe an advantage to be first. It’s okay because it’s not much to loose and the rally is very long. We try to do our best.”
Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala admitted he is struggling to match the pace of the leading Citroens. The Finn is 11.3s adrift of the lead.
Jari Ketomaa reported a lack of rear-end grip on his Fiesta. As a result he has dropped to fifth behind Petter Solberg, who reported making an incorrect adjustment to his Citroen’s suspension settings.
Kris Meeke has closed to within 8.9s of MINI team-mate Dani Sordo after beating the Spaniard through the stage.
Mikko Hirvonen claimed his second stage win of the morning in his works Fiesta RS WRC as he continues his recovery from his opening day drama.
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