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Loeb still on target in leg two.


Citroen driver Sebastien Loeb continues to lead the tenth round of the FIA World Rally Championship, the Rallye Deutschland, which continued today.

The young Frenchman lost time with damaged steering and a high-speed spin, but despite this he maintains the advantage, 10.1 seconds ahead of reigning world champion Richard Burns.

Current series leader Marcus Grönholm has set several fastest times today as he recovered from the hydraulic problems that slowed him yesterday, and he holds third overall.

Today's stages were based in the notoriously rough and bumpy Baumholder military ranges, and they caught out several crews. Subaru's Petter Solberg and Achim Mortl both retired after accidents, as did Skoda's Toni Gardemeister and Hyundai driver Armin Schwarz.

Citroen's Philippe Bugalski was forced to retire his Xsara WRC after this morning's first stage. The Frenchman damaged his exhaust in the test, but then on the road section to the next stage it broke an oil pipe and the engine would no longer run.

Sebastien Loeb's car has been generally reliable, although he did knock his steering out of line in SS12.

Loeb is still in the lead, but it hasn't been a straightforward day's action for the young Frenchman. He swapped seconds with second-placed Richard Burns in the opening stages, but then lost time to his rivals when he clipped a rock and knocked his car's steering out of line in SS12. He also spun in sixth gear in the same stage and his lead was cut to around six seconds as a result, but he retaliated in SS13 to ease his advantage back up to 19 seconds again. Loeb entered this evening's closing superspecial ahead by the same margin, and despite overshooting a junction he remains in front by 10.1 seconds.

''I have to be quite pleased with today - it hasn't been perfect but it could have been much worse,'' said Loeb. ''I had a very big spin in SS12, at around 160kph, and we also damaged the steering in that stage as well. I had to do SS13 with the same problem so I was surprised when we set fastest time. I'm trying to keep the same speed as the guys behind, because that way we won't have to take many risks and we can keep our lead at this level. I can still win - I'm quite confident.''

Team-mate Bugalski added: ''There was no way we could continue, because the pipe broke and we lost all of the oil. It's very frustrating, because once the pipe was fixed and more oil was put in, the car worked fine. But that's life.''

The Peugeot 206 WRCs of both Marcus Grönholm and Richard Burns have been reliable, but the third car of Harri Rovanperä encountered hydraulic pressure problems on today's third stage.



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