Sebastien Loeb survived an issue with the brakes on his Citroen C4 to retain the lead of Rally Cyprus after day two and remains on course for a 50th World Rally Championship win despite seeing his lead cut by Mikko Hirvonen.
Overnight rain aided Loeb through the morning stages as it reduced the amount of loose gravel on the stages, and he was able to return to the mid-day service having extended his lead at the head of the field, with Hirvonen having moved past Loeb's team-mate Dani Sordo into second place.
However, drier conditions in the two afternoon stages saw Loeb lose time to the chasing Ford while he also dealt with overheating brakes and a stall on the final test of the day, although the Frenchman will go into the final three tests with an advantage of nearly 50 seconds over Hirvonen.
“It has generally been a good day for me without big problems,” he said. “It could have been worse if it had been dry all day. We lost a little time with the brake problems and I had to slow down a little. We had 600 degrees on the rear and 200 on the front, so I had to slow down a bit to conserve the temperature. Then I had a little spin and stalled the engine, but it was not so bad.
“We're 49 seconds clear of Mikko this evening and that's nice. He will be second on the road tomorrow, so he will be road-sweeping too. It's going to be an interesting finale because Sunday's stages are faster than today's...”
Loeb added that he wasn't thinking about the fact that he could reach a half century of WRC wins on Sunday, with his focus remaining on just making it to the finish.
“I don't think about it,” he said. “I think about my brakes and finishing today. I just try and concentrate to make sure I reach the finish.”