WRC » 5 March 2006
Loeb takes Mexican lead.
Kronos Citroen ace, Sebastien Loeb has seized the advantage on the Corona Rally Mexico following the second leg on Saturday.
Loeb went in front on the first stage Saturday morning, before overnight leader, Petter Solberg re-asserted his authority on SS9.
Loeb then proceeded to set five fastest stages time on the trot, finally re-taking the lead on SS12, when Solberg had tyre problems. The Frenchman now enjoys over a 30 second lead. His only problem a herd of cows on the penultimate test!
"In a straight [on SS13] where I should have been flat out, I had to drop down to second gear to go round some cows on the stage. But they didn't seem surprised to see me! The rest of the stage was fine," he noted.
SS13 though proved crucial for Solberg and while he dropped 4.8 seconds behind after SS12, the second run through Derramdero was disastrous for the Subaru driver - the Norwegian clobbering a rock with a front wheel 3 kilometres in, breaking the power steering system in the process. 'Hollywood' was thus forced to drive the remainder of the stage, more than 20 kilometres without steering assistance in temperatures of more than 30°C, something that meant he could only post the sixth quickest time - finishing the test exhausted and more than 20 seconds slower than Loeb. He now lies 37.7 seconds behind, conceding more time on SS14 after spinning his Impreza.
Manfred Stohl remains on course for the final podium position, the Austrian was happier with the set-up on his 307 and his only drama was in SS13 when he came nose-to-nose with a herd of cows!
"I was so lucky... at full speed there were 10-15 cows in the middle of the road," explained the OMV Peugeot Norway WRT driver. "I just managed to avoid them but it was quite frightening."
Reigning Junior champion, Daniel Sordo is fourth, around 30 seconds or so adrift in his Xsara, while Henning Solberg and Gareth MacHale round out the top six. Henning again suffered brakes problems and he was at a loss to explain why.
"I had problems with the brakes again but I don't know why because I'm not pushing. Happily there is a big gap behind me," he noted.
Toshi Arai is seventh overall and the Japanese driver also leads the Production Car WRC category, now 40.9 seconds up on his nearest rival, despite a scare in SS12, which saw his 2 minute advantage more than halved, when he had to stop to fix a puncture.
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