Citroen number one driver Sebastien Loeb retained his lead on Wales Rally GB this afternoon winning three of the four stages - although Petter Solberg fought back in the final 'proper' test of the day cutting the gap from 6.7 seconds to 4.6.
Coming out of the Builth Wells mid-day service with a 2.5 second advantage, the first stage of the afternoon, Radnor 2, saw Loeb extend his cushion by a further 1.3 seconds after Solberg had a 'little' moment. "I went off a bit at a junction and had to come back on," 'Hollywood' explained. "I know what the problem is. I just don't have the car – that's the thing."
Loeb was also quickest on the next stage, Monument Hill 2, but this time the margin was just two tenths of a second.
With the return to the mixed gravel and tarmac of Four Ways Crychan 2, Loeb edged out another 2.7 seconds although at the finish line he was far from certain how well he had performed: "We were sliding everywhere," he admitted. "We had a few moments but overall it was okay. I hope the time is fine and that we have done everything that we can. The stage is more slippery now than it was in the morning."
Solberg, meanwhile, summed up the task that lay ahead of him: "We lost time this morning, we lost another ten seconds as we spun backwards just after the tarmac section. We now need to get the time back. We're going for a big attack now so that we're back on track tomorrow."
Solberg did just that too, taking 2.1 seconds off Loeb's lead in Halfway 2, a performance he summed up succinctly: "Bloody fantastic", he told a reporter at the end of the test.
While Loeb and Solberg are now separated by 4.6 seconds ahead of the Cardiff Bay Super Special stage, three men continue to battle it out for third place and it is Mikko Hirvonen that holds the place – even though he lost his lamp pod on Halfway 2.
BP Ford Abu Dhabi team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala lies 9.3 seconds adrift after issues in Four Ways Crychan 2 and Halfway 2: "We had a problem with launch control at the start of SS15. That dropped us a lot of time and I had to use commonsense to get the car off the line quickly," said the Crash.net
Dani Sordo is also still in the battle for 'bronze', despite losing a chunk of time to his rivals on Radnor 2: "It is very difficult in there, so different from this morning. The others were really, really fast," stated the Spaniard.
Henning Solberg remains in sixth - albeit now over three minutes behind Sordo: "I'm driving as fast as I can," he noted. "At least my brother is doing well!" Britain's Matthew Wilson is seventh in the other Stobart Ford Focus - despite probably 'trying too hard in the muddy sections'.