Sebastien Loeb has finished day two of the Acropolis Rally in the lead, with Sebastien Ogier
dropping back to second overall in the final test.
Petter Solberg had began the day on top, with a 51.6 second advantage. However running first on the road and having to sweep away the loose gravel, he was unable to hold off the factory Citroen's of Ogier and Loeb and he slipped back to third this afternoon on the repeat loop.
Heading into SS13, Ogier had built up a 15.1 second advantage, but he was 17.3 seconds slower than Loeb through the 17.71 kilometre Nea Politia test, which was run in the dark, and conveniently now slips 2.2 seconds back.
At the finish though he insisted he wasn't playing tactics: “I don't know what position I have,” Ogier maintained. “It was very difficult in the stage. We did not reduce speed. It was difficult to drive.”
Loeb will thus revert to road sweeper for the final leg and he was the fastest of the victory contenders in SS13, beaten only by Jari-Matti Latvala, who is outside the top ten after losing over 10 minutes this morning with a turbo problem.
“I was pushing hard,” Loeb said. “It was very slippery. Also there was a lot of dust at the beginning of the stage from Petter. But later on it was okay.”
Solberg meanwhile now lies just over 20 seconds off the lead. He was disappointed with his time in Nea Politia: “There were many people in the stage. Chris [Patterson – my co-driver] lost the pace notes and we lost some time. It is what it is,” said 'Hollywood'.
Mikko Hirvonen is the last of the runners in contention for the win and he ends the day just 1.5 seconds off P3: “It wasn't bad, but in some places you couldn't see anything,” said the Ford Abu Dhabi WRT man. “We are in good position for tomorrow. Game on!"
Further back Henning Solberg
lies a distant fifth, ahead of his M-Sport Stobart
Ford team-mate, Matt Wilson and then F1 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen. SWRC front runner Juho Hanninen rounds out the top eight – four minutes up on his closest class rival Bernardo Sousa, who drops back to tenth overall, behind Dennis Kuipers' FERM Powertools Ford Fiesta RS WRC.
The action now concludes on Sunday with 65.58 competitive kilometres on the bill - and five separate stages.
SS14, the 19.42 km-run through Aghii Theodori 1, begins at 09.03 hours local time [07.03 hours UK time]. Acropolis Rally: Overall standings after Stage 13 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Loeb
Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 3hours 20mins 27.6secs
2. Sebastien Ogier
Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +00mins 02.2secs
3. Petter Solberg
DS3 WRC +00mins 20.9secs
4. Mikko Hirvonen
Ford Abu Dhabi WRT Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 22.4secs
5. Henning Solberg
Ford Fiesta RS WRC +03mins 58.9secs
6. Matthew Wilson
Ford Fiesta RS WRC +05mins 30.2secs
7. Kimi Raikkonen
ICE1 Racing Citroen
DS3 WRC +06mins 55.4secs
8. Juho Hanninen
Red Bull Skoda Fabia S2000 +08mins 55.0secs
9. Dennis Kuipers
FERM Powertools Ford Fiesta RS +12mins 25.7secs
10. Bernardo Sousa
Ford Fiesta S2000 +12mins 55.3secs
11. Jari-Matti Latvala
Ford Abu Dhabi WRT Fiesta RS WRC +13mins 16.3secs
12. Frigyes Turan
Ford Fiesta S2000 +13mins 54.5secs
13. Hermann Gassner Jr.
Skoda Fabia S2000 +15mins 16.9secs
14. Mads Ostberg
Ford Fiesta RS WRC +16mins 35.7secs
MSWRC standings after Stage 13 (Top 3):
1. Juho Hanninen
Red Bull Skoda Fabia S2000 3hours 29mins 22.6secs
2. Bernardo Sousa
Ford Fiesta S2000 +04mins 00.3secs
3. Frigyes Turan
Ford Fiesta S2000 +04mins 59.5secs
SS2. Evgeny Novikov
Ford Fiesta RS WRC Suspension
SS3. Peter van Merksteijn Jr
Van Merksteijn Citroen
DS3 WRC Off road.
SS4. Mads Ostberg
Ford Fiesta RS WRC Off road.
SS5. Daniel Oliveira
Brazil WRT Mini John Cooper Works Stopped in stage
SS6. Federico Villagra
Munchis Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC Front car damage
SS7. Ott Tanak
Ford Fiesta S2000 Off road
SS12. Evgeny Novikov
Ford Fiesta RS WRC Alternator belt
* denotes re-started under SupeRallyall times unofficial