WRC » 1 January 1901
Loeb still in control on Rally Ireland.
Sebastien Loeb remains convincingly on course to win the Rally Ireland, the opening round in the 2009 World Rally Championship, following day two of the event on Saturday.
The Citroen team leader, who ended Friday's opening day with a 44.4 second lead, was on it right from the off this morning and he completed the first test, the 27.76 kilometre-run through Sloughan Glen 1, 12.7 seconds up on his team-mate, Dani Sordo, who was 'best of the rest'.
Loeb then increased his cushion further in SS10 and SS11, 9.7 seconds quicker than anyone else in Ballinamallard 1 and 5.4 seconds ahead in Tempo 1, to return to the mid-day service with his overall advantage well over a minute.
On the repeat loop in the afternoon, he lost around 12 seconds in SS12, when he briefly went off on the grass. Despite that though, Seb pushed on in SS13 and SS14, setting another two quickest stage times and like on Friday, he concluded the day having won 5 from 6.
The five-time world champion will now take a 1 minute 9.1 second cushion into the final leg and barring misfortune or really bad luck, he looks to have it in the bag.
Dani Sordo meanwhile is equally comfortable in second place, over a minute up on Mikko Hirvonen in P3. The Spaniard had a pretty uneventful day and his only real drama, just like Seb, came in Sloughan Glen 2, when he stalled at a hairpin and lost around ten seconds.
Mikko was unable to capitalise on that however, after he slipped back this morning in SS10 and SS11, when he lost his power steering. The Finn is now driving to ensure he takes the final spot on the podium.
Stobart Ford's Henning Solberg is next up and fourth in his Focus. He lost out with a puncture in the first test of the day and has been powerless to stop Chris Atkinson from closing in.
Indeed at the start of day 2, Henning was more than 1.5 minutes in front, that gap though is now virtually gone and thanks to top four times in every stage - including a second quickest effort and three thirds - Atkinson is now just 4.7 seconds adrift of P4.
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