Mikko Hirvonen managed to chip 2.1 seconds off Sebastien Loeb's Rally of Great Britain lead on the second run through Rhondda forest this afternoon, the longest test of the event.

Despite that though, the Finn was disappointed not to take more time out of his championship rival, who now leads by 22.9 seconds.

"It wasn't enough but that's all I could do," said Hirvonen. "I was absolutely on the limit.

"I'm not sure how much life the tyres have left in them. Some of the corners really caught me out and I was aquaplaning through some of them."

Loeb meanwhile was grateful for the advantage he established on the morning stages, saying: "It was really tricky with big, big water splashes in the corners. I had to push but I am quite happy to be here."

Dani Sordo is next up and increased the gap to Petter Solberg. Indeed Petter was grateful to get through SS10.

"I went into the ditch and had a very big moment," 'Hollywood' recalled, "and I lost maybe 14 seconds but it was a good run up until then!"

Further down the order, Sebastian Ogier continued his solid run in fifth place, the Citroen driver commenting: "I was pushing quite hard in there, and there is more to come from me and the car."

Stobart Ford duo Henning Solberg and Matthew Wilson held on to sixth and seventh places respectively, although, perhaps ominously for them, eighth placed Jari-Matti Latvala claimed: "Finally! I realise now what I have done wrong before and now I know what I have to do to go quicker."

Conrad Rautenbach overcame a spin to hold on to ninth place with tenth placed Aaron Burkart also having a close call.

"At one point we had the front two wheels over the edge but the four wheel drive brought us back on the road again. We were lucky to escape," said the German, who is competing in a C4 WRC car this weekend as part of his prize for winning the Citroen Junior Experience last year.

Competitors now head for their second run through Crychan and Halfway before returning to Cardiff for the overnight halt.

by Peter Hughes - Rally of Great Britain press office /
Edits and additional notes by Crash.net