Monday, December 3, 2007

Loeb stays on course to win world title

LONDON: Sebastien Loeb had a fourth successive world rally championship in his sights on Saturday after settling into third place in Britain's title-deciding season-ender.

The Citroen driver, who will match Tommi Makinen's record of four successive titles if he finishes fifth or higher on Sunday, was 1:15 behind Ford's pace-setter Mikko Hirvonen at the end of the second leg in south Wales.

Hirvonen's team-mate and fellow-Finn Marcus Gronholm, whose slight hopes of preventing Frenchman Loeb celebrating in Cardiff on Sunday looked ever fainter, was in second place and 35.5 second off the lead.

Loeb is six points clear of Gronholm and, with more wins than his rival, need take no risks to be sure of the championship.

Norway's former world champion Petter Solberg, winner four times in the last five years in Britain, was more than a minute behind Loeb in fourth place.

“The conditions are not bad this morning, I've got no problems today,” Loeb said after completing the day's opening Crychan 1 stage in cold but bright conditions after fog and rain on Friday.

“For the moment I'm braking very early and trying to be as smooth as possible. Everything is going to plan. I'm doing what I have to, there will be no attack.” – Reuters

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