Loeb holds on in Catalunya

2011-10-22 19:47

Salou - Sebastien Loeb made history on Saturday, overtaking legendary Finn Markku Alen's record of 801 special stage wins as he maintained his lead in the Rally of Catalunya.

Citroen's seven-time world rally champion posted the quickest time in the first 45km special of day two to draw level with Alen, then overtook his benchmark in the following 12km stage - his 802nd career success.

By the end of the day, Loeb led Ford duo Jari-Matti Latvala, by 27.6sec, and Mikko Hirvonen, who was 1min 51.8sec off the pace.

Loeb and Hirvonen came into this event neck-and-neck on 196 points in the overall standings as the world rally championship reaches its conclusion here and at the season-closer in Wales.

"I have a good feeling and my car is going well," said Loeb.

"I have a good rhythm but I am having to push because Jari-Matti is surprisingly fast on tarmac. My lead should be enough tomorrow if I make no mistakes."

Latvala said: "It’s been the best day of my career ever on tarmac, to be fighting in Catalunya with Loeb. I’ve not been able to catch him so much but I am still pleased for my day. I will pressurise him tomorrow(Sunday)."

Loeb, whose lead at the end of Friday stood at 30.6sec, began day two with a brace of stage wins although he was not able to match Latvala’s pace in the afternoon on Saturday.

Hirvonen endured a lacklustre day in the second Ford Fiesta and was coming under increasing pressure from fourth-placed Dani Sordo until he went quicker than the Spanish Mini driver on Saturday's final test.

The Ford driver will start day three with a margin of 37.4sec over Sordo, who went fastest of all on stage 11.

Sebastien Ogier, in the second factory Citroen, is fifth overnight after losing more ground when he suffered a puncture for the second consecutive day.