Citroen number one driver Sebastien Loeb retained his lead on Wales Rally GB this afternoon winning three of the four stages - although Petter Solberg fought back in the final 'proper' test of the day cutting the gap from 6.7 seconds to 4.6.

Coming out of the Builth Wells mid-day service with a 2.5 second advantage, the first stage of the afternoon, Radnor 2, saw Loeb extend his cushion by a further 1.3 seconds after Solberg had a 'little' moment. "I went off a bit at a junction and had to come back on," 'Hollywood' explained. "I know what the problem is. I just don't have the car - that's the thing."

Loeb was also quickest on the next stage, Monument Hill 2, but this time the margin was just two tenths of a second.

With the return to the mixed gravel and tarmac of Four Ways Crychan 2, Loeb edged out another 2.7 seconds although at the finish line he was far from certain how well he had performed: "We were sliding everywhere," he admitted. "We had a few moments but overall it was okay. I hope the time is fine and that we have done everything that we can. The stage is more slippery now than it was in the morning."

Solberg, meanwhile, summed up the task that lay ahead of him: "We lost time this morning, we lost another ten seconds as we spun backwards just after the tarmac section. We now need to get the time back. We're going for a big attack now so that we're back on track tomorrow."

Solberg did just that too, taking 2.1 seconds off Loeb's lead in Halfway 2, a performance he summed up succinctly: "Bloody fantastic", he told a reporter at the end of the test.

While Loeb and Solberg are now separated by 4.6 seconds ahead of the Cardiff Bay Super Special stage, three men continue to battle it out for third place and it is Mikko Hirvonen that holds the place - even though he lost his lamp pod on Halfway 2.

BP Ford Abu Dhabi team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala lies 9.3 seconds adrift after issues in Four Ways Crychan 2 and Halfway 2: "We had a problem with launch control at the start of SS15. That dropped us a lot of time and I had to use commonsense to get the car off the line quickly," said the columnist.

Dani Sordo is also still in the battle for 'bronze', despite losing a chunk of time to his rivals on Radnor 2: "It is very difficult in there, so different from this morning. The others were really, really fast," stated the Spaniard.

Henning Solberg remains in sixth - albeit now over three minutes behind Sordo: "I'm driving as fast as I can," he noted. "At least my brother is doing well!" Britain's Matthew Wilson is seventh in the other Stobart Ford Focus - despite probably 'trying too hard in the muddy sections'.

F1 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen moved into eighth place on Halfway 2 although he lost his lights at one point and couldn't see as well as he wanted. The man he demoted, Mads Ostberg, was very unhappy: "There's not much for me to do as it's impossible for me to drive the car," he revealed. "Even though I'm pushing to the maximum, the car is understeering on corners and our times are poor. It's unbelievable."

With Ken Block retiring with a rear driveshaft failure but planning to re-join the event tomorrow under the SupeRally, Ostberg was joined in joint ninth place on Halfway 2 by Andreas Mikkelsen.

Mikkelsen continues to lead the SWRC in his Ford Fiesta Super 2000, ahead of Jari Ketomaa and Xavier Pons, even though his car kept filling with smoke this afternoon and he had to drive with the windows down.

In the PWRC, Ott Tanak retains his lead, with Martin Semerad second in the category and reigning champion Armindo Araujo third.

The second day now concludes - as the opening leg began - with a blast through the short 1.70 kilometre Cardiff Bay Super Special stage [SS16]. It is scheduled to start at 18.34 hours local time.

Wales Rally GB: Overall standings after Stage 15 (Top 10):

1. Sebastien LoebCitroen Total WRT C4 WRC2hours 31min 08.5secs M
2. Petter SolbergPSWRT Citroen C4 WRC+00mins 04.6secs A8
3. Mikko HirvonenBP Ford Abu Dhabi Focus RS WRC +01mins 26.9secs M
4. Jari-Matti LatvalaBP Ford Abu Dhabi Focus RS WRC +01mins 36.2secs M
5. Dani SordoCitroen Junior Team C4 WRC+01mins 51.1secs M
6. Henning SolbergStobart M-Sport Ford Focus RS WRC+04mins 58.5secs M
7. Matthew WilsonStobart M-Sport Ford Focus WRC+06mins 47.0secs M
8. Kimi Raikkonen Citroen Junior Team C4 WRC +08mins 30.2secs M
9. Mads OstbergSubaru Impreza WRC+11mins 00.1secs A8
= Andreas MikkelsenSkoda Fabia S2000+11mins 00.1secs S

SWRC Standings after Stage 15 (Top 3):

1. Andreas MikkelsenSkoda Fabia S20002hours 42mins 08.6secs S
2. Jari KetomaaFord Fiesta S2000+00mins 23.0secs S
3. Xavier PonsFord Fiesta S2000+04mins 23.5secs S

PWRC Standings after Stage 15 (Top 3):

1. Ott Tanak Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X2hours 49mins 01.5secs P
2. Martin SemeradMitsubishi Lancer Evo IX+02mins 09.6secs P
3.Armindo Araujo Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X+03mins 18.4secs P

Notable retirements:

SS8. Sebastien OgierCitroen Total WRT C4 WRCCrashed M
SS12/SS13. Ken BlockMonster WRT Ford Focus WRCMechanical A8

all times unofficial



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