Loeb close to German victory
SOME VINE DRIVING: Finns Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila (Ford Fiesta) spray gravel into the Moselle vineyards in south-west Germany on Stage 9 of the 2012 Rally of Germany. Image: AFP (Daniel Roeseler, ADAC Motorsport)
Author: Alison Wildey
TRIER, Germany - World Rally champion Sebastien Loeb closed in on a ninth victory in the Rally of Germany after finishing Saturday's stages 1min42.9 ahead of the field.
Finland's Jari-Matti Latvala of Ford was second and Loeb's Citroen team mate Mikko Hirvonen third, 2min12.7 behind the Frenchman.
Eight-times champion Loeb said on the World Rally Championship website: “We finished the second day with a good lead so it's looking good for Sunday.”
Loeb's closest challenger at Saturday’s start, Petter Solberg of Norway, retired after breaking his Ford Fiesta's right rear wheel and suspension on a rock on stage nine.
"It was my fault," Solberg said. "I lost the back end of the car in a very long left corner and I couldn't get it back again. We had a big slide and the car touched a rock."
Loeb has won six of the eight rallies so far in the 2012 and is leading the Drivers' championship by 43 points from Finn Hirvonen.
2012 Rally of German classification from on Saturday
1 Sebastien Loeb (France) Citroen 2:58:51.8
2 Jari-Matti Latvala (Finland) Ford +01:42.9
3 Mikko Hirvonen (Finland) Citroen 02:12.7
4 Mads Ostberg (Norway) Ford 03:07.8
5 Chris Atkinson (Australia) Mini 06:59.0
6 Sebastien Ogier (France) Skoda 08:10.6
7 Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway) Skoda 10:20.4
8 Nasser Al-Attiyah (Qatar) Citroen 10:52.0
9 Ott Taenak (Estonia) Ford 12:43.1
10 Mathieu Arzeno (France) Peugeot 13:03.5