Citroen's Sebastien Loeb has increased his lead on Rally Argentina this afternoon, finishing the final 'proper' test of the leg with a 40.3 second advantage.

Loeb moved to the front this morning when overnight leader Sebastien Ogier had handbrake problems in SS7 and went off, losing over 40 seconds. On the repeat loop this afternoon, the nine-time WRC champion pushed, winning SS8 to increase his lead from a slender 8.9 seconds to 29.7 seconds. Loeb then went quickest again in SS9 and now looks set to take a commanding cushion into the final day as only the short 6.04 km SSS remains to be run.

Ogier meanwhile initially went on the attack in the first test after lunch. However, he was slowed by a puncture 7 kilometres from the end and lost around 5 seconds, finishing the test second quickest - 3.4 seconds off Loeb. The Volkswagen man then conceded another 10.6 seconds in the 39.16 km Amboy-Yacanto 2 test, taking it cautiously as he had no more spare tyres.

Evgeny Novikov holds third for the Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team, albeit roughly two minutes further back in his Fiesta RS WRC car.

Jari-Matti Latvala has dropped to fourth, after he picked up a puncture in SS9 and had to stop and change it - losing almost 2 minutes.

Thierry Neuville rounds out the top five, with Mikko Hirvonen now in sixth in his Citroen DS3 WRC car. Hirvonen had been running second until he was slowed by a right rear puncture in Santa Rosa-Villa del Dique 2. That cost him over 30 seconds. Worse was to come though, and electrical problems in Amboy-Yacanto 2 meant he completed the test around 6 minutes slower than Loeb.

Behind, Andreas Mikkelsen is classified seventh, despite having to stop on the road section to SS9 after he hit a bridge in the previous test and damaged the suspension on his VW Polo R WRC. He will re-start on Saturday.

Then comes Rally 2 runner Mads Ostberg, now up to eighth, with Martin Prokop ninth and Dani Sordo tenth.

In WRC2, Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari is still on top, now 10 minutes 31.2 seconds ahead of Nicolas Fuchs. Marcos Ligato holds third after Armin Kremer was slow through SS9, more than 20 minutes off the pace.

The second leg of Rally Argentina now concludes with a second-run through the 6.04 km SSS, due to start at 19.05 hours local time [23.05 hours UK time].

Rally Argentina: Overall standings after Stage 9 (Top 10):

1. Sebastien LoebCitroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC3hours 27mins 25.0secs M
2. Sebastien OgierVolkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC+40.3secs M
3. Evgeny NovikovQatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +2m 39.5sM
4. Jari-Matti LatvalaVolkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC+2m 53.0s M
5. Thierry Neuville Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +3m 31.1s T
6. Mikko HirvonenCitroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC+6m 41.9s M
7. Andreas MikkelsenVolkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC+7m 45.6s T*
8. Mads OstbergQatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC+10m 40.1s M*
9. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +11m 59.2s T
10. Dani SordoAbu Dhabi Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +13m 01.1s M


11. Gabriel PozzoQatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +14m 30.2s T
12. Daniel OliveiraStohl Racing Ford Fiesta RS WRC +22m 42.0s*
13. Abdulaziz Al-KuwariFord Fiesta RRC+25m 41.9s WRC2

WRC2 standings after Stage 9 (Top 3):

1. Abdulaziz Al-KuwariFord Fiesta RRC3hr 53m 06.9s WRC2
2. Nicolas FuchsMitsubishi Lancer Evo IX+10m 31.3s WRC2
3. Marcos LigatoSubaru Impreza WRX STi+20m 52.4s WRC2

Notable retirements:

SS4. Mads OstbergQatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRCBroken steering arm M*
SS4. Daniel OliveiraStohl Racing Ford Fiesta RS WRC Lost front wheel*
SS5. Michal Kosciuszko Lotos Team WRC MINI John Cooper Works WRC Stopped in stage T*

SS6. Michal Kosciuszko Lotos Team WRC MINI John Cooper Works WRC Suspension T
SS8/9. Andreas MikkelsenVolkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRCSuspension T*

*denotes re-started under Rally 2 regulations

all times unofficial



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