Citroen's Sebastien Loeb finally managed to break free from team-mate Dani Sordo in the final stage before the mid-day halt this morning, increasing his advantage on Rally Deutschland to a commanding 23 seconds.

Loeb, who had finished the first leg 9.5 seconds in front, was unable to really stretch that lead on the first loop. However, in Panzerplatte he took no prisoners and completed the 48 kilometre test - the longest stage of the season - in 27 minutes 55.8 seconds, 8.2 seconds up on Petter Solberg, who was second, and 12.2 seconds quicker than Sordo, who was third.

"It was okay - a good stage for me," Loeb said. "We had to look after the tyres and drove quite cautiously. You have to adapt your driving."

Sordo added: "In the first half I tried to take care of the tyres then I tried to push, but Seb is unbeatable. I didn't drive that well at the end."

Sebastien Ogier meanwhile now holds third to give Citroen a potential clean sweep of the podium places, after BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT man Jari-Matti Latvala spun around 10 kilometres from the end. The Finn had to reverse several times before he got going again and from being 7.7 seconds ahead of Ogier is now 8.9 seconds adrift. He blamed his pace notes for the mistake and said they were simply 'not realistic'.

"I had a smooth run until the last stage. I came down a long straight into a long left bend and it was difficult to see the corner. It was marked too fast in my pace notes and I went too wide," Latvala confirmed. "I saw the hinkelsteins on the side of the road and braked hard. The car spun into a bank and I lost time while I reversed back onto the road. But I'm still fighting for third. The first three stages were fast and bumpy. The open sections were dry, but under the trees the road surface was dirty and slippery."

"Panzerplatte was a very interesting stage," Ogier chipped in. "I heard that Latvala had stopped on the stage and slowed down. Then I heard that he had continued and I pushed again. It was no problem for me. The fight continues."

Further down the order, Mikko Hirvonen and Francois Duval remain fifth and sixth respectively, and neither had any issues. Hirvonen is now 13.3 seconds off Latvala and P4.

"I'm lacking confidence," Hirvonen admitted. "I would like to make the car more precise. Soft tyres were definitely the right choice for the opening three stages but I don't like the feeling with them. I want to stay in the battle for third so I hope I find a better feeling this afternoon."

Of the rest, Petter Solberg is seventh, having gained two places in part due to a fantastic time - he was second quickest remember - and also because Matthew Wilson and F1 2007 world champion, Kimi Raikkonen both had problems. Wilson complained of brake problems over the final 18 kilometres, while Kimi broke the left rear anti-roll bar on his Citroen C4 WRC.

"I am very happy I could make up two positions," Solberg said. "This morning, due to my standings, I was about to retire to save money for the next WRC round, but then my sponsor told me to continue."

Ken Block rounds out the top ten in his Monster WRT-run Ford Focus RS WRC car, and despite losing almost 2 minutes in SS10 alone, admitted he was just happy to have got through.

In the support categories, P-G Andersson now leads the SWRC by 1.5 seconds from Martin Prokop, while Armindo Araujo and Hans Weijs Jr both remain top in the PWRC and JWRC respectively.

Day two now continues at 14.43 hours local time with a repeat-run through all of this morning stages - a remote service zone (RSZ) again precedes the second-run through Panzerplatte (SS14), which concludes the leg.

Rallye Deutschland: Overall standings after Stage 10 (Top 10):

1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT C4 WRC 2hours 12mins 08.5secs M
2. Dani Sordo Citroen Total WRT C4 WRC +00mins 23.0secs M
3. Sebastien Ogier Citroen Junior Team C4 WRC +01mins 57.9secs M
4. Jari-Matti Latvala BP Ford Abu Dhabi Focus RS WRC +02mins 06.8secs M
5. Mikko Hirvonen BP Ford Abu Dhabi Focus RS WRC +02mins 20.1secs M
6. Francois Duval Stobart M-Sport Ford Focus WRC +04mins 10.1secs M
7. Petter Solberg PSWRT Citroen C4 WRC +05mins 17.7secs A8
8. Matthew Wilson Stobart M-Sport Ford Focus WRC +05mins 41.5secs M
9. Kimi Raikkonen Citroen Junior Team C4 WRC +05mins 45.3secs M
10. Ken Block Monster WRT Ford Focus RS WRC +09mins 20.7secs A8

SWRC Standings after Stage 10 (Top 3):

1. P-G Andersson Skoda Fabia S2000 2hours 22mins 50.6secs S
2. Martin Prokop Ford Fiesta S2000 +00mins 01.5secs S
3. Patrik Sandell Skoda Fabia S2000 +00mins 05.4secs S

PWRC Standings after Stage 10 (Top 3):

1. Armindo Araujo Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 2hours 27mins 40.0secs P
2. Hayden Paddon Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +00mins 10.5secs P
3. Patrik Flodin Subaru Impreza STi +00mins 55.4secs P

JWRC Standings after Stage 10 (Top 3):

1. Hans Weijs Jr Citroen C2 S1600 2hours 27mins 57.9secs J
2. Aaron Burkart Suzuki Swift S1600 +03mins 29.4secs J
3. Karl Kruuda Suzuki Swift S1600 +07mins 35.1secs J

Notable retirements:

SS2. Henning Solberg Stobart M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000 Mechanical*

* denotes able/elected to re-start under the SupeRally format.

all times unofficial


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