Loeb cruises home to Acropolis win

Autosport

Sebastien Loeb extended his World Rally Championship lead to 31 points as he clinched his fourth win from this year's six rallies in Greece.

Loeb's third Acropolis Rally victory was not an easy one, as he had to overcome both a late puncture and stern challenges from both Ford drivers to secure the win, taking the power stage bonus points as well.

Jari-Matti Latvala led early on, before losing time with an overshoot and handling issues. The Finn, returning to the series after missing Argentina with a broken collarbone, charged back to get within a second of Loeb again, only for a mistake on Saturday to cause a puncture and brake damage, leaving him four minutes off the lead by the end of the day. Latvala eventually finished third.

In the other works Ford, Petter Solberg initially lost ground with a tyre choice error, had a scare when he damaged the underside of his car, and then began carving back into Loeb's lead only to crash out on Sunday's first stage.

All of that left Loeb two minutes clear of Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen, a sufficient margin to hold the lead even when he had to stop and change a punctured tyre with three stages to go.

Hirvonen had dropped a bit of time to a puncture on Friday, but also lacked the pace to stay with the other frontrunners, so was pleased to complete a Citroen one-two ahead of Latvala.

Amid heavy attrition in the rest of the WRC field, Mads Ostberg (Adapta Ford) recovered from a trip off the road on Friday to come back to fourth, ahead of the consistent Martin Prokop's Czech Ford.

Thierry Neuville succeeded in getting through a weekend without using Rally 2, but did lose several minutes with a broken driveshaft on Friday, leaving him a distant sixth for Citroen Junior.

Result to follow.

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