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Motorsport | Rallying

Sebastien Loeb © Gallo Images

Loeb leads but Solberg closes in Greece

Sebastian Loeb maintained his lead in the Rally of Greece ahead of Petter Solberg on Saturday as Jari-Matti Latvala's challenge faded after he suffered a puncture.

French world champion Loeb, who has not won in Greece in four previous attempts, has a 10.2-second lead to protect heading into the final day after Solberg chipped away at his advantage in the final stage.

Norwegian Solberg, in a Ford Fiesta RS, completed the new 21.36-kilometre test 3.9 seconds quicker than Citroen DS3 driver Loeb, who struggled in heavy rain at the start of his run.

"He (Solberg) was faster than me in the stage, we had heavy rain at the start, so we will see for tomorrow. We have to hold onto the lead, I am ready for a fight," eight-times world champion Loeb told rpeorters.

Solberg said he had not taken any risks.

"I was hoping to get some time back so it's fantastic. I would like to have it a bit less than 10s but it will be very interesting tomorrow."

Mads Ostberg and Latvala shared the third-fastest time on the final stage with the latter's performance impressive considering he was driving with only three working brakes.

Latvala began the day only 6.5 seconds behind Loeb in second spot and had cut the gap to just 2.2 at the start of stage 14 before picking up a slow puncture and eventually having to stop to change the damaged wheel approximately four kilometres from the finish.

"It was my mistake," said Latvala. "I was slightly wide at the beginning of the stage and hit a bank. There was a little touch but there was something sharp and it broke the tyre. It's very disappointing. Normally with a slow puncture I should be able to drive for quite a long time but unfortunately I broke the wheel and we had to stop to change it."

Loeb leads the overall world championship standings after five rounds on 91 points ahead of Solberg on 73, Mikko Hirvonen with 70 and Ostberg on 68.


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