News24

Loeb maintains Acropolis lead

2012-05-26 19:16

Loutraki - Sebastien Loeb retained his Acropolis Rally lead which France's multiple world champion has held since the fourth special stage at the close of business on Saturday.

The Citroen DS3 driver goes into the final day with a 10-second advantage over Norway's former champion, Ford driver Petter Solberg, with Loeb's team-mate, Mikko Hirvonen, in third, almost two minutes adrift.

A puncture and brake problems held up Solberg's Ford colleague Jari-Matti Latvala who is placed fourth, 4:45 off the pace.

"We will continue to fight tomorrow and see what will happen," said Loeb.

"Today has not been easy and there were times when the conditions were very difficult. But we are still leading and that's the most important thing."

Solberg added: "I didn't take any risks at all and I was hoping to get some time back so it's fantastic. I would like to have it a bit less than 10 seconds but it will be very interesting tomorrow."

Latvala was philosophical about his problems.

"That was the best I can do with three brakes, I can't drive any better than this," said the Ford driver.

"The hairpins are so difficult because I can't use the handbrake. Now we are at the finish of the day so let's get things sorted out on the car in service so we can concentrate on tomorrow."

Mads Ostberg fought back up to fifth in his Fiesta with Martin Prokop sixth. Both drivers benefited when a water pump failure led to Evgeny Novikov's exit on Saturday morning.

Thierry Neuville is seventh with Sebastien Ogier eighth despite tackling Stage 15 without the aid of powersteering on his Skoda. Yazeed Al-Rajhi is a strong ninth in his Fiesta.

Acropolis Rally standings after Saturday's eight special stages:

1. Sebastien Loeb (FRA/Citroen DS3) 3h56:13.0
2. Petter Solberg (NOR/Ford Fiesta RS) at 10.2
3. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN/Citroen DS3) 1:51.9
4. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN/Ford Fiesta RS) 4:44.6
5. Mads Ostberg (NOR/Ford Fiesta RS) 7:39.7
6. Martin Prokop (CZE/Ford Fiesta RS) 8:08.6
7. Thierry Neuville (BEL/Citroen DS3) 10:39.4
8. Sebastien Ogier (FRA/Skoda Fabia S2000) 12:17.9
9. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR/Skoda Fabia S2000) 22:08.6
10. Nasser Al Attiyah (QAT/Citroen DS3) 22:12.9   

Stage winners:

Latvala 7 (SS1, SS2, SS3, SS7, SS9, SS11, SS12); P. Solberg 5 (SS4, SS8, SS15, SS16, SS17); Hirvonen 1 (SS5); Loeb 4 (SS6, SS10, SS13, SS14)

AFP