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Loeb takes early lead in Sweden

Defending champion Sebastien Loeb holds the early lead on Rally Sweden ahead of main title rival Mikko Hirvonen
Sebastien Loeb holds the early lead in Rally Sweden after reaching the mid-day service on day one with a lead of just over four seconds over Ford rival Mikko Hirvonen.

Loeb had started the day in fourth place following the Thursday night Superspecial stage in Karlstad but went quickest through both SS2 and SS3 to move into the lead of the event past overnight leader Dani Sordo. However, Hirvonen then went quickest on the final stage of the morning to cut Loeb's advantage to 4.1secs and jump ahead of Sordo into second place.

"I wasn't so confident - a little too hesitant - but I don't know why," Loeb said following stage four. "The stage before I knew it was good time, this one I'm not so sure."

Hirvonen was happy to have moved up to second place after changes to the Ford Focus prior to stage four improved his feeling with the machine, while Sordo ended the morning in third place – having gone second quickest on both stage two and stage three before losing out to Hirvonen in the final test of the morning.

Admitting he wasn't totally confident with his car, Jari-Matti Latvala ended the morning in fourth place having run fourth on each stage on Friday morning ahead of Citroen Junior Team driver Sebastien Ogier and the returning Marcus Gronholm although the Finn admitted he wasn't yet at one with the Stobart Ford Focus.

"For now it doesn't feel like my car," he said. "We need to do something but for the moment I don't really know what. I need to find more confidence."

Mads Ostberg holds seventh place after moving ahead of both Henning and Petter Solberg on the final stage of the morning, with the latter being forced to fight back from a spin on the Thursday Superspecial that dropped him well down the order.

Matthew Wilson holds the final points scoring position in tenth place, while former F1 title winner Kimi Raikkonen sits just outside the points in eleventh place having lost time behind the Ford of Khalid Al Qassimi on the opening stage of the morning after the Arab driver went off the road.

In the Super 2000 WRC, PG Andersson holds a lead of more than half a minute over Janne Tuohino at the wheel of his Skoda Fabia, while Patrik Flodin is the early leader in PWRC.

Overall standings after Stage 4 (Top 10):

1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT C4 WRC 00hours 33mins 53.2secs M
2. Mikko Hirvonen BP Ford Abu Dhabi Focus RS WRC +00mins 04.1secs M
3. Dani Sordo Citroen Total WRT C4 WRC +00mins 06.0secs M
4. Jari-Matti Latvala BP Ford Abu Dhabi Focus RS WRC +00mins 18.0secs M
5. Sebastien Ogier Citroen Junior Team C4 WRC +00mins 34.4secs M
6. Marcus Gronholm Stobart VK Ford Focus WRC +00mins 42.5secs M
7. Mads Ostberg Adapta Subaru Impreza WRC +00mins 54.6secs M
8. Henning Solberg Stobart VK Ford Focus WRC +00mins 58.1secs M
9. Petter Solberg PSWRT Citroen C4 WRC +00mins 58.6secs A8
10. Matthew Wilson Stobart VK Ford Focus WRC +01mins 39.7secs A8

Other:

11. Kimi Raikkonen Citroen Junior Team C4 WRC +02mins 08.9secs M

SWRC Standings after Stage 4 (Top 3):

1. PG Andersson Skoda Fabia S2000 00hours 36mins 11.4secs S
2. Janne Tuohino Ford Fiesta S2000 +00mins 27.3secs S
3. Martin Prokop Ford Fiesta S2000 +00mins 52.5secs S

PWRC Standings after Stage 4 (Top 3):

1. Patrik Flodin Subaru Impreza 37mins 31.0secs P
2. Anders Grondal Subaru Impreza +00mins 18.5secs P
3. Armindo Araujo Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +01mins 03.3secs P



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Sebastien Loeb (FRA) Daniel Elena (MON), Citroën C4, Citroën Total World Rally Team
Lorenzo Bertelli (ITA) Simone Scattolin (ITA) Ford RS WRC
Podium, 1st Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 2nd Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 3rd Thierry Neuville (BEL) Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 WRC
Podium, 1st Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 2nd Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 3rd Thierry Neuville (BEL) Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 WRC
Podium 1st Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 2nd Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 3rd Thierry Neuville (BEL) Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 WRC
Mads Ostberg (NOR) Ola Floene (NOR) Ford Fiesta RS WRC
Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Lorenzo Bertelli (ITA) Simone Scattolin (ITA) Ford RS WRC
Mads Ostberg (NOR) Ola Floene (NOR) Ford Fiesta RS WRC
Mads Ostberg (NOR) Ola Floene (NOR) Ford Fiesta RS WRC
Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Lorenzo Bertelli (ITA) Simone Scattolin (ITA) Ford RS WRC
Lorenzo Bertelli (ITA) Simone Scattolin (ITA) Ford RS WRC
Eric Camilli (FRA) Benjamin Veillas (FRA) Ford Fiesta RS WRC
Lorenzo Bertelli (ITA) Simone Scattolin (ITA) Ford RS WRC
Mads Ostberg (NOR) Ola Floene (NOR) Ford Fiesta RS WRC

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Blah - Unregistered

February 12, 2010 4:28 PM

I seriously doubt that Kimi thought he could take on the worlds best in his first real WRC rally. He gets paid more, doesn't have to do nearly as much press interviews. It's still win-win for Kimi, no matter how badly his rallying career would go. It's simply not possible to switch to another form of motorsports and be successful, at least right away. Rossi was still 2,4s off the pace in his 6th and latest test. Hakkinen never won the DTM championship, nor did the other F1 drivers. Toro Rosso didn't want Loeb for the last race, because they knew he would qualify last and the press interest would plumet after that. Montoya hasn't done too well even against overweight nascar drivers.



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