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Loeb extends lead in Finland

Sebastien Loeb pulls away and stretches his overnight 'lead' from 1.5 seconds to 10.8 seconds following SS16.
Sebastien Loeb has increased lead on Rally Finland this morning and now heads into the mid-day service 10.8 seconds up on Sebastien Ogier.

Loeb began the final day with a 1.5 second cushion following the way the tactics played out last night in SS11 [see separate story - click here]. However despite having to run first on the road, which should have put the 37-year-old at a distinct disadvantage as he swept away the loose gravel, he managed to pull away from both Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala.

Indeed he was quickest in the first test this morning in his Citroen DS3 WRC car, 6.4 seconds up on his closest rival. Loeb then set the pace again in SS13, before going second in SS14, third in SS15 and second again in SS16. It was another master class from the seven-time world champion and leaves him in a very strong position going into the repeat loop this afternoon.

“It has been a great morning. I was really pushing hard in all the stages and I am feeling very good in the car,” Loeb said. “The road conditions were not too bad. It was actually quite good. There was a bit of cleaning in places, but for the rest it was pretty equal. I could really make the difference. 10 seconds is not a big gap. But it is looking better than this morning. It will be drier this afternoon and maybe a bit more slippery. I will have to continue to push.”

Latvala meanwhile has slipped right back and is now 20 seconds adrift of the leader in his Ford Abu Dhabi WRT Fiesta RS WRC car: “The humidity was so high last night that all the roads were damp,” Latvala said. “The moisture bound together the loose gravel and the cars ahead didn't have to sweep the dirt off the surface as we expected. Our road position wasn't the advantage we thought it would be. First in the order turned out to be the best because that's the position that offered the most traction.

“I'm frustrated but I will have some lunch and come back fighting this afternoon. I want to put the pressure on the guys ahead because sometimes the second pass through stages is harder for the road openers than the first pass.”

Petter Solberg remains a distant fourth, now 50 seconds further back, followed by M-Sport Stobart Ford man Mads Ostberg and the hard-charging Mikko Hirvonen, who won another three stages this morning to close up on P5 – the gap down from 28.6 seconds last night to 6.1 seconds post-SS16.

Dani Sordo remains seventh in his MINI WRC car with Henning Solberg now up to eighth and F1 2007 world champion, Kimi Raikkonen ninth. Kris Meeke completes the top ten narrowly ahead of fellow Brit Matt Wilson and SWRC class leader, Juho Hanninen.

Rally Finland now draws to a close with a repeat-run through this morning's five stages - SS17, Leustu 2, starting at 13.55 hours local time [11.55 hours UK time] - before then heading to the 4.19 km Laajavuori test, which ran on Thursday night as SS3, for the event ending Power Stage. SS22 will start at 19.11 hours local time [17.11 hours UK time].


Rally Finland: Overall standings after Stage 16 (Top 10):

1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 2hours 03mins 03.0secs M
2. Sebastien Ogier Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +00mins 10.8secs M
3. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford Abu Dhabi WRT Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 20.0secs M
4. Petter Solberg PSWRT Citroen DS3 WRC +01mins 12.0secs M
5. Mads Ostberg M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC +01mins 27.1secs M
6. Mikko Hirvonen Ford Abu Dhabi WRT Fiesta RS WRC +01mins 33.2secs M
7. Dani Sordo Mini WRT John Cooper Works +02mins 11.2secs
8. Henning Solberg M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC +02mins 58.0secs
9. Kimi Raikkonen ICE1 Racing Citroen DS3 WRC +03mins 02.6secs M
10. Kris Meeke Mini WRT John Cooper Works +03mins 12.1secs


Others:

11. Matthew Wilson M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC +03mins 17.7secs M
12. Juho Hanninen Red Bull Skoda Fabia S2000 +03mins 38.3secs S
13. Martin Prokop Ford Fiesta S2000 +05mins 38.0secs S
14. Dennis Kuipers FERM Powertools Ford Fiesta RS WRC +05mins 53.3secs M
15. Andreas Mikkelsen VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 +06mins 48.4secs
16. PG Andersson Subaru Impreza R4 +07mins 22.8secs
17. Ott Tanak Ford Fiesta S2000 +07mins 23.1secs S
18. Khalid Al-Qassimi Team Abu Dhabi Ford Fiesta RS WRC +08mins 01.0secs M
19. Hermann Gassner Jr Skoda Fabia S2000 +08mins 33.2secs S
23. Armindo Araujo Motorsport Italia Mini John Cooper Works +09mins 46.9secs


SWRC standings after Stage 16 (Top 3):

1. Juho Hanninen Red Bull Skoda Fabia S2000 2hours 06mins 41.3secs S
2. Martin Prokop Ford Fiesta S2000 +01mins 59.7secs S
3. Ott Tanak Ford Fiesta S2000 +03mins 44.8secs S


PWRC standings after Stage 16 (Top 3):

1. Hayden Paddon Subaru Impreza WRX STi 2hours 12mins 03.8secs P
2. Patrik Flodin Subaru Impreza WRX STi +00mins 59.4secs P
3. Jarkko Nikara Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +01mins 00.2secs P


Notable retirements:

SS2. Matti Rantanen Mini John Cooper Works Off the road

SS4. Mattias Therman Mini John Cooper Works Off the road*
SS8. Jari Ketomaa HJ-Autotalo.com Ford Fiesta RS WRC Off the road
SS8. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC Stopped*
SS8. Joonas Lindroos VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 Off the road

* denotes re-started under SupeRally


all times unofficial



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Sebastien Loeb (FRA) Daniel Elena (MON), Citroën DS3 WRC, Citroën Total World Rally Team
Sebastien Loeb (FRA) Daniel Elena (MON), Citroën DS3 WRC, Citroën Total World Rally Team
Sebastien Loeb (FRA), Citroën DS3 WRC, Citroën Total World Rally Team

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