Sun, Aug 21, 2011 - Page 20 News List

Sebastien Loeb leads after first day of Rally Germany

AMBITION:The Frenchman is hoping to capture an eighth consecutive world championship, as he and Sebastien Ogier helped Citroen to a very good day


French driver Sebastien Loeb and his copilot Daniel Elena compete in the ninth stage of Rally Germany near Hermeskeil, Germany, yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Sebastien Loeb led after the first day of Rally Germany on Friday, when the world championship leader claimed three of the opening six stages.

The French driver, targeting a second straight win in the race and ninth overall, holds a 7.4-second lead over fellow Citroen driver Sebastien Ogier, with Ford’s Mikko Hirvonen a further one minute, 11 seconds behind.

Loeb is bidding to capture an eighth consecutive world championship and leads the overall standings with 171 points, ahead of Hirvonen on 144.

“It has been a good day for me. I’ve been pushing very hard because Ogier is pushing everywhere,” Loeb said. “It’s not easy to make a difference, but I’m leading this evening and that’s the main thing.”


Ogier claimed two stages to make it a very good day for Citroen, which leads the manufacturers’ standings with 290 points, 65 ahead of Ford.

“For the manufacturers’ championship it is looking very good,” Loeb said.

Jari-Matti Latvala claimed the first stage in his Ford Fiesta, but was among other drivers caught out on the rain-hit second, when Loeb and Ogier could take advantage with their soft compound tires. Latvala finished the day in 15th.

Hirvonen struck a wall on the fourth stage as he attempted to recover ground lost on stage two, but fought back to claim a podium place.

Spain’s Daniel Sordo finished fourth in his Mini, ahead of teammate Kris Meeke who might have done better but for a spin on the final stage.


Petter Solberg overshot a junction and got his Citroen stuck in a bank before ending up sixth, ahead of older brother Henning who overcame brake problems to finish ahead of Kimi Raikkonen.

The former Formula One world champion survived coming off the road and damaging the left side of his Citroen, leaving his door flapping for the remainder of stage five.

“I was a little bit too fast in a right-hander and there was a fence. We slid into it and broke the door,” Raikkonen said.

Dennis Kuipers drove his Fiesta to ninth, with Armindo Araujo finishing 10th in his Mini.

Dry conditions are expected for the eight stages on Saturday.

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