Sebastien Loeb will lead into the final day of Rally de Espana after another day dominated by Citroen
Loeb briefly took the lead during the morning loop before team-mate Dani Sordo edged back ahead prior to the mid-day service, with the Spaniard retaining his lead through the opening two stages of the afternoon. However, on the final test of the day, the Spaniard slowed to allow Loeb through into the lead and he will take an advantage of 1.5secs into the final day of the event.
“I'm in the lead, but not by a lot," he said. "The main thing is we got through the day okay and with no punctures. I'm very happy to be in the lead but there's a long day still to come tomorrow. We'll see how we do."
With Sordo set to play the team game on the final day, Citroen
are poised to secure the manufacturers' title, while Loeb is well placed to close the gap to Mikko Hirvonen
to just a point in the drivers' standings.
As was the case on the opening day, Hirvonen was unable to keep pace with the Citroen
pair ahead but remains in third place, although he is now nearly 50 seconds down on the leader.
"I was closer to the drivers in front than I was yesterday, but it wasn't quite enough to match them," said Hirvonen. "I can't find the last few seconds that I need so there is still some work to do to improve on asphalt. Like everyone else, I suffered from slight understeer in long second and third gear corners which meant I didn't have enough grip at the front. There are many different things that could cause it, but I didn't want to make a big change to the car's set-up to try to cure it in case it was a big step in the wrong direction.
"I drove to maintain position and keep Petter behind me. If the rally ends like this tomorrow then there would be just one point between myself and Sébastien Loeb going into the final round, so that would be some battle. But I have to make sure there are no mistakes tomorrow."
Petter Solberg remains in fourth place on his first outing with the Citroen
C4 – having taken his first stage win in the car on the final test of the day – while Sebastien Ogier
is 20 seconds further back in fifth place for the Citroen
Junior Team after taking two stage wins during the day.
Jari-Matti Latvala remains sixth but is more than a minute behind Ogier, while Matthew Wilson
and Federico Villagra
round out the points scoring positions after Evgeny Novikov
retired in the opening stage of the day after going off the road. Henning Solberg
in the second Stobart
Ford and Dany Snobeck's Peugeot complete the top ten.