Citroen's Sebastien Loeb has gained further ground in Germany this morning, as his rivals lost out in the rain-hit SS7.
Loeb began the second day with a 20.4 second cushion over Petter Solberg, but while he did have to negotiate Stein & Wein 1, the opening test of the leg, in the rain, conditions deteriorated for those further back. As such he was 21.4 seconds up on Solberg, who was second quickest, and while the Frenchman did take it a bit cautiously in SS8, and was only third fastest, he was only 0.2 seconds slower than Hollywood. As a result he now goes into the short remote service zone in Birkenfeld with his overnight lead up to 41.6 seconds.
Solberg meanwhile is now his only realistic threat, after Jari-Matti Latvala lost 30-odd seconds in Peterberg 1 with a spin and dropped back from third to fifth.
Latvala's error has allowed Dani Sordo to move up to third in his Prodrive WRC Team-run MINI John Cooper Works WRC car, the Spaniard enjoying a good morning and topping the times in SS8.
Thierry Neuville trails Sordo in fourth, and the Belgian is only 0.8 seconds back – and only 2.2 seconds up on Latvala in P5, setting things up nicely for a great three-way scrap for the final podium position.
Behind, Mikko Hirvonen is sixth and still off the pace, with Ott Tanak, Mads Ostberg and Chris Atkinson in positions 7 through to 9. Sebastien Ogier completes the top ten.
In the support categories, Michal Kosciuszko is back in the lead in the PWRC, after Benito Guerra lost out with a puncture in SS7, while Elfyn Evans continues to head the WRC Academy.
The morning loop now concludes with a run through the awesome 46.54 kilometre Arena Panzerplatte test. SS9 is due to start at 10.52 hours local time [09.52 hours UK time].
Rallye Deutschland: Overall standings after Stage 8 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Loeb
Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 1hour 43mins 36.7secs
2. Petter Solberg
Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 41.6secs
3. Dani Sordo
Prodrive WRC Team MINI John Coopers Works WRC +01m 25.9secs
4. Thierry Neuville
Citroen Junior WRT DS3 WRC +01mins 26.7secs
5. Jari-Matti Latvala
Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +01mins 28.9secs
6. Mikko Hirvonen
Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +01mins 59.9secs
7. Ott Tanak
M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +02mins 34.1secs
8. Mads Ostberg
Adapta WRT Fiesta RS WRC +02mins 39.3secs
9. Chris Atkinson
WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC +04mins 44.3secs
10. Sebastien Ogier
VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 +05mins 49.0secs
11. Peter van Merksteijn Jr
van Merksteijn Motorsport Citroen DS3 WRC +06mins 11.9secs
12. Nasser Al-Attiyah
Qatar WRT Citroen DS3 WRC +07mins 00.0secs
13. Andreas Mikkelsen
VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 +07mins 02.4secs
PWRC standings after Stage 8 - Top 3:
1. Michal Kosciuszko
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX 1hour 56mins 49.6secs
2. Benito Guerra
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +02mins 02.8secs
3. Subhan Aksa
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +03mins 41.2secs
WRC Academy standings after Stage 8 – Top 3:
1. Elfyn Evans
Ford Fiesta R2 1hour 59mins 36.4secs
2. Jose Suarez
Ford Fiesta R2 +00mins 50.8secs
3. Brendan Reeves
Ford Fiesta R2 +01mins 14.7secs
SS1. Evgeny Novikov
M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC Went off
SS2. Paulo Nobre
WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC Stopped in stage
SS3. Martin Prokop
Czech Ford National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC Car caught fire
* denotes re-started under Rally 2
all times unofficial