5 May 2007
Argentina - leg 2: Loeb in control.
Triple world rally champion, Sebastien Loeb dominated proceedings on Saturday in Argentina, the sixth round in the 2007 FIA World Rally Championship, winning seven of the day's nine stages.
Loeb was unstoppable pretty much throughout and after all the logistical problems on Friday, which led to the cancellation of seven stages, day two ran smoothly and the drivers' finally got a taste of some 'proper' tests.
Seb began the day by immediately grabbing the lead from Mikko Hirvonen, who won the two super specials that made up the 'first leg'. The Frenchman was 4.1 seconds quicker than anyone else in SS10. He was then 2.6 seconds fastest in SS11 and 0.6 seconds quickest in SS12, with Marcus Gronholm heading the chasing pack having taken second from Petter Solberg in the 23.38 kilometre-run through Ascochinga-La Cumbre.
Seb then eked out more time on SS13 and finished the morning loop with his fifth fastest time in succession on SS14. He returned to the mid-day service with a good cushion in his Citroen C4 WRC, 15.4 seconds up on Gronholm's Focus.
In the afternoon Loeb proceeded to try and increase his advantage and while he was quickest on two of the four tests, Gronholm pegged him back in SS15 - and in SS18. As a result Loeb only increased the margin to 19.2 seconds, suggesting that things might not be over yet.
Gronholm is now the only real threat and the Finn will be determined to try and keep Loeb under pressure on Sunday, to stop him taking his third gravel win on the trot this year.
Mikko Hirvonen meanwhile moved up to third on the penultimate stage after Petter Solberg had to retire from the leg with mechanical problems. Mikko is however, someway off his Ford team-mate, over a minute adrift in the sister BP Focus WRC.
Further down the order, Stobart Ford duo, Jari-Matti Latvala and Henning Solberg come in fourth and fifth, both having gained a place in the final test of the day, along with Chris Atkinson and Manfred Stohl, when Daniel Sordo lost over 90 seconds in the final stage. The Spaniard plummeted from fourth overall to eighth as a result.
Petter holds ninth overnight, assuming he will rejoin the fold on Sunday under the SupeRally. If he can re-start he is unlikely to gain points though, as he is more than 6 minutes off Sordo.
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