Reigning world champion, Sebastien Loeb has further strengthened his position in the battle for this year's drivers' championship, following his victory on the Rally Argentina on Sunday, the sixth round in the 2006 FIA World Rally Championship.

The Frenchman took over the lead from his nearest championship rival, Marcus Gronholm, on the opening day when the Finn was forced out in his BP Ford Focus with transmission problems.

Furthermore while Gronholm re-started on Saturday under the SupeRally format, he had lost too much time and as such could not break back into the top eight and score any points. Loeb has therefore increased his advantage from 11 points going into the event, to 21 and although with 10 rounds still to go and 100 points up for grabs it is far from done and dusted, the Kronos driver is again looking good to win the title for the third year in a row.

Indeed he didn't have any major problems during the event, a spin on SS3 cost him some time and a few other minor errors slowed him slightly, but in reality, once Gronholm had dropped back he never looked likely to be overhauled and by the mid-day service on Saturday he had increased his lead over Petter Solberg from 20 seconds at the end of leg 1 to nearly a minute. Although the Norwegian cut that gap back during the second loop on Saturday, Loeb was just pacing himself to the finish and eventually took the honours by around 45 seconds.

It was his second successive win in Argentina and his fourth of the season, after also having won on the previous events in Corsica, Spain and Mexico. The result also helped extend Kronos' lead over BP Ford in the manufacturers', from 3 points to 12.

Petter meanwhile had to make do with the runners-up spot in his Subaru Impreza and while he will be no doubt disappointed that he couldn't match Loeb, after his season to date and particularly the two rounds on asphalt that preceded this weekend's event, he will have been pleased to have been back at the sharp end. Solberg managed to win six tests during the event and if it wasn't for a 10 second penalty on day one and a poor tyre choice on the first loop on day two, it may have been a different story...

Former Mitsubishi works driver, Gigi Galli completed the podium to take his first ever top-three finish in the WRC. The Italian was consistent throughout the event and third was a just result for him on what was only his second event with the Pirelli backed Peugeot 307 and his first with the Bozian ran car on gravel.

Fourth place went to Manfred Stohl, who was making his 100th appearance in the WRC. The Austrian went into the final leg behind his OMV Peugeot Norway WRT team-mate, Henning Solberg, but used his knowledge of the Argentinean stages to good affect over the final two 'proper' tests and pulled out a minute on the Norwegian.

Henning slipped further down the order in the final tests though, when his clutch failed on the second 2.20 kilometre super special. As a result Daniel Sordo and Chris Atkinson both moved up a place to fifth and sixth, the latter unable to overhaul his Spanish rival despite the fact just 0.1 seconds separated the two going into the final two super-specials. Sordo ended up 3.6 seconds in front, leaving Atkinson to rue his one minute penalty at the end of leg two, for speeding in the service park.

Stobart VK driver, Matthew Wilson snatched back eighth from his team-mate and local favourite, Luis-Perez Companc right at the end to take the final points' paying position. Companc had a slight off in SS20, which closed the gap between the two and that combined with a stall in SS21 and Wilson going quickest in SS22, meant the Brit took back the position he lost at the end of day two. It his best result to date in the WRC and the first time he has scored a drivers' point in the championship.

BP Ford team leader, Gronholm had to settle for tenth - his charge back up the leaderboard after being forced out on day one not even rewarding him with a point for his troubles, although he did scoop one for the team as the eighth place driver registered for the manufacturers' championship. That will be some consolation perhaps, but probably more so was the speed of the Focus - Gronholm managing to win seven stages to show the potential of the relatively new car.

His team-mate, Mikko Hirvonen was the sole 'works' retirement. Hirvonen was forced out on SS9 on day one, while lying third overall, when his car developed engine problems. The damage sustained was too great for him to be able to re-join and therefore he could not re-start under the SupeRally format. The reliability problems will be something that will concern the M-Sport squad.

The only other 'works' driver at the finish was Xavier Pons, who like Gronholm and Hirvonen went out on day one. The Spaniard was the first 'works' casualty when he made a mistake in SS6 and hit something early on in the stage. He was later forced to stop when his Kronos ran Xsara developed a leak and briefly caught fire. He rejoined the action on Saturday and eventually came home 17th. The main highlight for him came on day two, when he was quickest through SS13, to record his first fastest stage time in a WRC car.

In the support categories, the Production Car WRC honours went to Nasser Al-Attiyah, who finished over a minute and a half up on Leszek Kuzaj, who was also in a Subaru Impreza. Mirco Baldacci completed the class podium, ahead of Nigel Heath, who was beginning his PCWRC campaign in Argentina and Sebastian Beltran, who had led at one point until problems on SS14.

As for the Junior WRC, it was never going to be a particularly vintage event as only four cars were entered in the class. However Guy Wilks deservedly won, the Brit led from the off and was never really troubled. He finished up over 9 minutes ahead of Patrik Sandell's Renault Clio and even had time to stop and change a puncture on day two! Wilks' Suzuki team-mate, Per-Gunnar Andersson took third, having re-started under the SupeRally format after going out on SS3 on day one, when he hit a rock, while Jaan Molder was classified fourth in his Ford Fiesta, having used the SupeRally twice to get to the finish.

The WRC now returns to Europe for the Rally d'Italia Sardegna in three weeks time, which runs from May 18-21.