RALLY

Loeb dominates stages under Irish rain

Last winner of the Irish edition, Sebastien Loeb dominated five out of six stages as rain poured on Irish roads. He leads his teamate Dani Sordo by 1 minute and 9 seconds. Both Citroens are well ahead in front of follower Mikko Hirvonen on Ford.

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AFP - World champion Sebastien Loeb thrived in the torrential rain to lead Citroen teammate Dani Sordo by 1min 9sec after the second day of the Rally of Ireland on Saturday.

"There was a lot of water and the track was already very narrow, so it's delicate," said Loeb who is chasing a sixth world title this season. "But we used snow tyres so it wasn't too bad.

"It rained so much that it cleaned the surface and eventually it was less slippy. But we still had to pay attention because it's impossible to find the right limit."

Loeb, who led overnight, dominated proceedings on Saturday, winning five of the six stages as he built up his advantage over his rivals.

Only on stage 12 did he slip up when he lost time when he came slightly off track and allowed Ford Focus driver Mikko Hirvonen to get on the board.

Hirvonen, the runner-up to Loeb in 2008, finished the day two and half minutes behind the Frenchman and admitted he had no hope of catching the dominant factory Citroen team on Sunday.

Ford will struggle to score points elsewhere with Jari-Matti Latvala a huge 23 minutes behind and Urmo Aava having crashed out on Friday.

Loeb, the winner of the Rally of Ireland in 2007 when the race was last held, is now in sight of his 48th career win while Sordo was wondering how his Citroen teammate could go so fast on the testing course behind the wheel of the same car.

 

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