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2012-01-21 12:27

FLYING FRENCHMAN: Citroen’s Sebastien Loeb flies his DS3 past spectators on Stage 11 of the 2012 Monte Carlo Rally – the 80th – on Friday in south-eastern France. Image: AFP

MONACO, Monte Carlo - Eight-times World Rally champion Sebastien Loeb extended his lead on day three of the season-opening Monte Carlo rally with Daniel Sordo pulling ahead of Petter Solberg and into second.

Loeb won eight of the 10 stages over the first two days. Even though the Frenchman failed to win any of Friday's three stages, he’s leading Sordo by 2min12.4. The Spaniard, meanwhile, was more than a minute ahead of Solberg.


Mikko Hirvonen, Loeb's Citroen team mate, was fourth overall and pushing for a podium place after winning stages 12 and 13 on Friday.

There will be four stages on Saturday and a short final stage on Sunday.

Solberg started the day aggressively in his Ford and won stage 11, finishing it 13.2sec ahead of Sordo to move back into second. Loeb made only sixth and was 16.7sec slower than Solberg.

The icy stage 12 from Vassieux' Cemetery to Col de Gaudissart was eventful as Solberg struggled throughout and dropped nearly a minute behind Sordo. Citroen took the top two places with Hirvonen beating Loeb and Sordo fourth behind his Mini team mate Pierre Campana of France.


"It was hard to keep the car on the road - the conditions kept changing," Loeb said. "First there was some ice in one corner, then none in the next. I'm happy to have got through it."

Solberg, who was way down in 11th on stage 12, lamented choosing the wrong tyres. "I almost came off the road," the Norwegian said. "It was worse than I’d expected."

Stage 13 was the longest of the day and also dominated by the Citroens. Russia's Evgeny Novikov was third fastest in his Ford ahead of Sordo and Solberg.

Hirvonen, who closed the gap on Solberg to 23.8sec. said: "The car's amazing when it has a consistent grip."



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