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Finland - day 2: Loeb set to break Finland duck?

Citroen's Sebastien Loeb managed to slightly increase his overnight lead on day two of the Neste Oil Rally Finland, concluding the leg with the margin up from 14.4 seconds to 18.2.

There wasn't nothing much to choose between Loeb and local hero Mikko Hirvonen for much of the day and it wasn't until the final two stages that Seb finally inched further in front, in part because Mikko had trouble getting off the line prior to the penultimate stage.

The four-time world champion now looks poised for yet another historic achievement in his illustrious career and if he does manage to get through Sunday's short final leg he will become only the fourth non-Nordic driver to win the event in 57 years, joining previous winners Markko Martin (2003), Didier Auriol (1992) and Carlos Sainz (1990).

"What a day! It has been really tough," said Loeb, who won four stages today to add to the ten he took on day 1. "The gap between me and Mikko is still the same really. It has been a fantastic and hard fight. There is nothing else I can do - I've driven flat out all day."

Hirvonen meanwhile reckoned that neither of them could have done much more. He also pointed that they were both lucky to get away with pushing so much: "Seb is fast on the narrow sections but I am quick where it's wide," Mikko added. "I am absolutely amazed at the speeds we have both been driving. You have to have absolute blind faith in your pace-notes and drive with complete commitment.

"There were times when parts of the road were covered in bushes and branches and they could have been hiding all sorts of big rocks. The fact that they didn't was just pure luck."

Chris Atkinson is next up and set for the final spot on the podium, quite a turnaround after he struggled on the opening day and finished the first leg in seventh - 50 seconds or so off P3.

Chris felt more comfortable on Saturday however, and posted top five times in every single test bar one - including two third fastest times in SS12 and SS18. He finally overhauled Dani Sordo for third in the last test and will go into the final leg one second in front.

"The car has been consistent today, which has helped me to improve my times," he explained. "We've come from somewhere like eighth this morning to a podium position now. That is great!"



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