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Loeb seizes lead in Spain

10 November 2012

Sebastien Loeb has taken over the lead on Rally de Espana this morning, after Mads Ostberg slipped back following an off in SS8.

Loeb finished the rain-hit opening leg, which took place on predominantly gravel stages, 27.2 seconds back, but with the remaining tests now all on pure asphalt, he came to the fore in his Citroen DS3 WRC car.

Indeed he won two of the three tests and with Ostberg stumbling in El Priorat 1, the Frenchman now heads back for the mid-day service in PortAventura with an 18.9 second advantage: “I know I'm ahead, but we need to keep pushing,” Loeb said after SS9.

Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala meanwhile heads the chasing pack and the Finn was quickest in the first test of the day, the 20.48 kilometre La Mussara test, 7.1 seconds up on Loeb. However he had to settle for the second best times in SS8 and SS9, 3.6 seconds back in the former and 2.6 seconds slower in the latter.

“I tried to push [in the last test of the loop], but the surface was so dirty that I chose to be as cautious as possible,” Jari-Matti explained.

Ostberg now lies third, 29 seconds off P2, having been over a minute off the pace in the middle test when he made that critical error: “After my mistake in the previous stage, I'm now much more focused to avoid further errors,” said the Norwegian.

Behind, Mikko Hirvonen is only 8 seconds adrift in fourth, and the Finn had a consistent morning, posting two third fastest times and one fourth.

Ott Tanak rounds out the top five for the M-Sport Ford WRT, albeit 27 seconds off the fight for the final spot on the podium.

Further back, Han Weijs has moved up sixth in the Qatar WRT Citroen DS3 WRC, ahead of runaway SWRC leader, Craig Breen and the Prodrive WRC Team MINI John Cooper Works WRC car of Jarkko Nikara.

Evgeny Novikov and P-G Andersson complete the provisional points scorers in ninth and tenth respectively, the former re-starting today under the Rally 2 rules after he went off the road on Friday in SS5. The Russian was one of number of runners to rejoin after the carnage on day one, which claimed 11 of the top 20 starters. Other notable Rally 2 runners are Chris Atkinson, who is just outside the points in eleventh, along with Petter Solberg, Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo. Sordo had a bad morning, however, after his Prodrive WRC Team-run MINI dropped to three cylinders in the first test.

In the support categories, Breen heads Andersson in the SWRC by over 3.5 minutes, while Benito Guerra now leads the PWRC, after Marcos Ligato, Yeray Lemes and Michal Kosciuszko, running 1-2-3 overnight, all had problems. Jose Suarez continues to top the WRC Academy.

The second leg now concludes this afternoon with a repeat run through this morning's three stages. SS10, the 20.48 km La Maussara 2 test, is due to start at 13.51 hours local time [12.51 hours UK time].



Rally de Espana: Overall standings after Stage 9 (Top 10):

1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 2hours 29mins 17.2secs M
2. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 18.9secs M
3. Mads Ostberg Adapta WRT Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 47.9secs M
4. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +00mins 55.9secs M
5. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +01mins 22.9secs M
6. Han Weijs Qatar WRT Citroen DS3 WRC +07mins 54.3secs M
7. Craig Breen Ford Fiesta S2000 +09mins 06.7secs S
8. Jarkko Nikara Prodrive WRC Team MINI John Cooper Works WRC +11mins 08.0secs
9. Evgeny Novikov Ford Fiesta RS WRC +12mins 12.6secs
10. P-G Andersson Proton Satria Neo S2000 +12mins 48.8secs S


Others

11. Chris Atkinson WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC +15mins 18.6secs
12. Maciej Oleksowicz Ford Fiesta S2000 +18mins 42.6secs S
13. Benito Guerra Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +19mins 02.5secs P
14. Abdulaziz Alkuwari Seashore Qatar WRT MINI John Cooper Works WRC +19mins 31.9secs
15. Dani Sordo Prodrive WRC Team MINI John Cooper Works WRC +21mins 35.0secs
16. Martin Prokop Czech Ford National Team Fiesta RS WRC +22mins 06.5secs


SWRC standings after Stage 9 (Top 3):

1. Craig Breen Ford Fiesta S2000 2hours 38mins 23.9secs S
2. P-G Andersson Proton Satria Neo S2000 +03mins 42.1secs S
3. Maciej Oleksowicz Ford Fiesta S2000 +09mins 35.9secs S


PWRC standings after Stage 9 (Top 3):

1. Benito Guerra Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 2hours 37mins 46.6secs P
2. Valeriy Gorban Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +04mins 02.0secs P
3. Subhan Aksa Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +05mins 15.0secs P


WRC Academy standings after Stage 9 (Top 3):

1. Jose Suarez Ford Fiesta R2 2hours 53mins 29.4secs A
2. Pontus Tidemand Ford Fiesta R2 +01mins 42.4secs A
3. Elfyn Evans Ford Fiesta R2 +03mins 59.8secs A


Notable retirements:

SS2. Petter Solberg Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC Hit a rock M*
SS2. Thierry Neuville Citroen Junior WRT Citroen DS3 WRC Hit a rock*
SS2. Andreas Mikkelsen VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 Hit a rock*
SS2/3. Martin Prokop Czech Ford National Team Fiesta RS WRC Crashed*
SS3. Daniel Oliveira Brazil WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Went off M*
SS3. Dani Sordo Prodrive WRC Team MINI John Cooper Works WRC Went off*
SS3/4. John Powell M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC Unwell M
SS4. Paulo Nobre WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC Accident*
SS5. Evgeny Novikov Ford Fiesta RS WRC Went off*
SS5. Chris Atkinson WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC Mechanical*
SS5/6. Sebastien Ogier VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 Stopped on road section

*denotes re-started under Rally 2


all times unofficial


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