Two-horse race: Loeb, Gronholm to battle it out?

Championship leader Sebastien Loeb and Peugeot number one Marcus Gronholm have been battling for the lead throughout the second leg of the Rally of Turkey today [Saturday].

Gronholm temporarily snatched the advantage after setting fastest time in stage nine and benefiting from a 10 second penalty given to Loeb for jumping the start.

The French driver, who won three of the six stages, nevertheless recovered his position after Gronholm hit a metal bar lying in the road in stage 11. The force of the impact not only holed the floor panel, but blasted into the underside of the co-driver's seat, leaving Timo Rautiainen in pain for the remainder of the day.

"It was a very strange problem," explained Gronholm, "Timo shouted out in pain, and I was quite worried so I slowed down straight away. Luckily he is fine now and has no injury, so we can continue to attack hard."

"It was another very good day," added Loeb, "tough though because of the heat in these very twisty stages. The car balance is simply perfect, I have full confidence in it and we have not made any mistakes. We have a small lead but we will try to control it [tomorrow]. I really want to win but I imagine that Marcus wants it as well."

Petter Solberg meanwhile maintains his third position in the lead Subaru, the Norwegian too far adrift to challenge and simply playing a waiting game should one of his rivals make a mistake.

"It's been a very good day," stated the Norwegian. "I'm very pleased with the performance of the car and the tyres have done well in these very warm conditions - occasionally we have struggled, but that's how it is. The last two stages were much colder and the feeling with the car was very good."

Harri Rovanpera had stormed from an overnight sixth to fourth however the Finn was struck with gearbox problems in the final stage of the day and was forced into retirement. He was understandably disappointed.

"It seems I am destined never to be lucky in Turkey! What happened to me was a real pity, because up until that point everything was going very well," he explained. "I had a lot of confidence in the car and I was able to push. Maybe I could have been on the podium... but we will never know."

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Sebastien Loeb / Daniel Elena - Citroen Xsara WRC
Sebastien Loeb - Citroen
Marcus Gronholm / Timo Rautiainen - Peugeot 307 WRC
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Dani Sordo. Hyundai i20 WRC. Goodwood Festival of Speed 2014
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