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Loeb leads after opening loop in Finland

Sebastian Loeb leads for Citroen after the opening three stages of Rally Finland
Sebastian Loeb will lead into the first full day of Rally Finland after emerging from the opening three stages of the event with the early lead.

The Citroen driver will take a lead of 2.8secs into Friday's stages but will be forced to sweep the road for the pack behind having topped the times from the second stage, where he moved into the lead of the event. The fastest time on the final short stage of the evening allowed him to slightly extend his lead over his team-mate.

Jari-Matti Latvala leads the Ford challenge following the opening evening and will start Friday's stages 4.4secs off the lead in third place, the 26-year-old employing tactics to slow towards the end of the second stage to give him a better position in the running order for day two.

"During the second stage the team sent a message into the car giving me a target time to ensure I was third in the start order tomorrow," he said. "I slowed down towards the finish to make sure I achieved that target and the plan worked perfectly. I'm happy with my position for the morning.

"I was cautious on the opening stage and made a couple of small mistakes on the final test but nothing that cost time. All I'm concentrating on is tomorrow as I don't want to put extra pressure on myself, because this rally brings enough of that already. There was great excitement and pressure before the start, but now the event is under way I can relax and focus on my driving."

However, Latvala has already been left to fly the flag for Ford in terms of victory after team-mate Mikko Hirvonen lost time with an off-road excursion on the opening stage after his Fiesta's engine died.

The resultant damage forced him to carry out running repairs after stage two before he eventually returned to service more than two minutes off the pace down in 36th place.

"The engine died midway through a fast, fifth gear left corner and without any drive the car slid wide and the rear right hit a tree," Hirvonen said. "The impact damaged the brakes and suspension. Those issues caused more problems in the next stage and about 5km from the finish, the brake calliper jammed between the wheel and the damper. The wheel dragged all the way to the end, puncturing the tyre.

"It's disappointing because it's the second year in a row that I've had problems early in my home rally, although last year was due to a crash. I wanted to fight for a win and after a strong test last week, I felt that was something I could achieve. All I can do now is drive flat out through the final two days and see how far I can climb back up the order."




Related Pictures

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Sebastien Loeb (FRA), Citroën DS3 WRC, Citroën Total World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - 1st place Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)-Miikka Anttila (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT, 2nd place Ott Tanak (EAU)-Martin Jarveoja (EST),Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team and 3rd place Sébastien Ogier (FRA)-Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - 1st place Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)-Miikka Anttila (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT, 2nd place Ott Tanak (EAU)-Martin Jarveoja (EST),Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team and 3rd place Sébastien Ogier (FRA)-Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - Gus GREENSMITH (GBR) - Craig PARRY (GBR) Ford Fiesta R5
12.02.2017 - Gus GREENSMITH (GBR) - Craig PARRY (GBR) Ford Fiesta R5
12.02.2017 - Hiroki ARAI (JPN) - Glenn MACNEALL (AUS) Ford Fiesta R5, Tommi Mäkinen Racing
12.02.2017 - Alexey LUKYANUK (RUS) - Alexey ARNAUTOV (RUS) Ford Fiesta R5
12.02.2017 - Eric Camilli (FRA)-Benjamin Veillas (FRA) Ford Fiesta, M‐Sport World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - Eric Camilli (FRA)-Benjamin Veillas (FRA) Ford Fiesta, M‐Sport World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - Eric Camilli (FRA)-Benjamin Veillas (FRA) Ford Fiesta, M‐Sport World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - Jarosław KOLTUN (POL) - Ireneusz PLESKOT (POL) Ford Fiesta R5, C‐Rally
12.02.2017 - Eyvind BRYNILDSEN (NOR) - Anders FREDRIKSSON (SWE) Ford Fiesta R5 Adapta Motorsport AS
12.02.2017 - Podium WRC 2, 1st place Pontus Tidemand (SWE)-Jonas Andersson (SWE) Skoda Fabia R5 WRC2, Skoda Motorsport, 2nd place Teemu SUNINEN (FIN) - Mikko MARKKULA (FIN) Ford Fiesta R5, M‐Sport World Rally Team and 3rd place Ole Christian VEIBY (NOR) - Stig Rune SKJÆRMOEN (NOR) Skoda Fabia R5, Printsport
12.02.2017 - Teemu SUNINEN (FIN) - Mikko MARKKULA (FIN) Ford Fiesta R5, M‐Sport World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - Teemu SUNINEN (FIN) - Mikko MARKKULA (FIN) Ford Fiesta R5, M‐Sport World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - Teemu SUNINEN (FIN) - Mikko MARKKULA (FIN) Ford Fiesta R5, M‐Sport World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - Henning Solberg (NOR)- Ilka Minor (AUT) Ford Fiesta RS WRC
12.02.2017 - Valeriy Gorban (UKR)-Sergei Larens (EST) BMW‐Mini John Cooper Works, Eurolamp World Rally Team

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