JYVASKYLA, Finland (AFP) –
French veteran Sebastien Loeb held his overnight lead in his Citroen DS3 ahead of a pair of Finnish drivers in Friday’s opening five specials on the second day of the Rally of Finland.
Eight-time world champion Loeb, who won here last season, has a 5sec lead on Citroen’s Mikko Hirvonen with Jari-Matti Latvala sitting third for Ford at 15.1sec.
“Fifteen seconds isn’t a lot but in Finland it’s difficult to make up ground,” said Loeb, who expressed his delight at his duel with the Finnish pair.
Championship leader Loeb won the day’s opening special stage four at Urria, and also stage seven with Hirvonen winning three of the five stages — SS5, SS6 and SS8 — but still just managed to close the gap on Loeb by 2.3sec.
“I have to attack a little more. I can’t let Sebastien move ahead,” said Hirvonen ahead of the afternoon’s four specials.
“I’m really trying, trying to do my best but it’s not happening, I don’t know why,” added Latvala.
Norway’s Petter Solberg, the 2003 world champion, moved up to fourth from sixth overnight but lost time and is 17.9sec off the pace while compatriot and stablemate Mads Ostberg dropped to fifth at 29.7sec.