WRC

Rally Deutschland: Series leg 2 midday report

Midday wrap: Loeb extends overall lead on Rallye Deutschland Sebastien Loeb continues to edge closer to his eighth victory on Rallye Deutschland. The Frenchman extended his lead to 23 seconds over Citroen team-mate Dani Sordo following ...

Midday wrap: Loeb extends overall lead on Rallye Deutschland

Sebastien Loeb continues to edge closer to his eighth victory on Rallye Deutschland.

The Frenchman extended his lead to 23 seconds over Citroen team-mate Dani Sordo following Saturday's opening four stages, which included the punishing 48-kilometre Panzerplatte test.

"It's been a good morning," said the six-time world champion. "The gravel section on the first stage was quite interesting because we are obviously not on the right tyres for those conditions but it was not really a problem. Dani was not far behind after eight stages so I had to keep pushing. My time on Panzerplatte was down to managing the tyre by judging my pace and knowing the limit of the tyre."

Although Sordo is under orders to hold station in second, he went faster than Loeb through stage eight, St Wendeler Land. However, Sordo had to give best to Loeb on the morning's other three runs. "It's important we finish with some good points for the championship but of course I will continue to try and push," he said.

Ford Focus driver Jari-Matti Latvala was third overall until he spun onto some grass 10 kilometres before the finish of Panzerplatte, which dropped him to fourth, 8.9s behind new third-placed driver Sebastien Ogier, who said he wasn't happy with his speed despite reporting his Citroen Junior Team C4 WRC had "good balance".

Latvala blamed the incident, which occurred on a long left-hander, on an over optimistic pace note. Prior to Panzerplatte, the Finn said he felt his performance had improved since his last visit to Germany in 2008 but added that he wasn't entirely happy with the handling of his car. "In the fast places when the road is dirty we have some understeer," said Latvala. "Also the engine revs get too low on some corners and this is not so good."

Mikko Hirvonen is fifth but said he didn't have the confidence to push harder in his Focus although he was at a loss to explain why he wasn't closer to the leading pace.

Francois Duval complained his Focus was suffering from understeer on Saturday morning's opening stages but returns to midday service in Trier in sixth overall.

Kimi Raikkonen moved ahead of Matthew Wilson into sixth after stage eight but dropped back when he overshot a junction right eight kilometres from the finish of stage nine and lost 15 seconds. He drops to ninth after being forced to complete part of stage nine and all of Panzerplatte with a broken left-rear anti-roll link on his C4, which his mechanics were unable to repair in the remote service halt in Birkenfeld.

Petter Solberg leapfrogged both Raikkonen and Wilson into seventh with the second fastest time through Panzerplatte. Wilson, who is eighth, complained of a long brake pedal from the 10-kilometre mark. The Briton also reported being too cautious through the gravel section on stage seven. Ken Block completes the top 10 in his Monster World Rally Team Focus.

Skoda Fabia pilot P-G Andersson moved into the Super 2000 World Rally Championship lead on stage nine but his advantage over overnight leader Martin Prokop (Ford Fiesta) is a slender 1.5s after Panzerplatte. Patrik Sandell is also firmly in contention following a strong showing in his Fabia.

Armindo Araujo's lead in the Production Car World Rally Championship over Hayden Paddon has been trimmed to 14.8s following a spin on the Panzerplatte stage. Patrik Flodin is third in class despite overshooting a junction on stage 10.

Hans Weijs Jr admitted to only having to drive at 90 per cent in order to maintain his Junior World Rally Championship advantage, which stands at almost four minutes. Aaron Burkart is now second in his Suzuki Swift after Yeray Lemes got his car stuck in a ditch for nine minutes after going off the road 20 metres from the finish of stage eight. A double puncture on Panzerplatte cost him even more time.

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Series WRC
Teams Citroën World Rally Team