Rallying-Citroen's Loeb claims overall lead in Greece

Reuters

Sat, 18 Jun 22:12:00 2011

Frenchman Sebastien Loeb leads the Acropolis Rally after a thrilling final stage under cover of darkness brought the second leg to a close on Saturday.

The world champion started the 17.71-km Nea Politia night stage -- the first of its kind in over a decade -- in second place but moved ahead of Citroen team mate Sebastien Ogier.

Loeb's compatriot reported losing time in hanging dust which made conditions difficult on the rock-strewn roads around Loutraki, east of the capital.

Ogier, despite taking the first three stages and penultimate stage, was 17.3 seconds slower than Loeb in the night test and fell 2.2 seconds behind him in the overall classification.

Norway's Petter Solberg, who led the overall standings with a hefty 51.6 seconds lead after day one, completed the night stage with the fourth fastest time in his privateer Citroen and is third in the overall standings 20.9 seconds behind Loeb.

Finn Mikko Hirvonen was 2.1 seconds slower than Loeb in his factory Ford Fiesta RS WRC and will begin day two in fourth spot overall, 22.4 seconds behind the leader.

"I was pushing hard but it was very slippery in some places," Loeb told the official wrc.com website. "There was a lot of dust in the start of the stage and I thought I would lose one minute but then it was finished after four kilometres."

Loeb will run first on the road on the final day.

The rally, one of the most gruelling tests in the championship with cockpit temperatures usually well in excess of 30 degrees Celsius, has returned after a year's absence.

The seventh round of the championship marks the halfway stage of the season.

Loeb leads the standings with 126 points to Hirvonen's 113.

 

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