World champion Sebastien Loeb will take a 6.4-second lead over Citroen team-mate Mikka Hirvonen into tomorrow’s final day of the Rally New Zealand.
Loeb started the second day with a four second lead over Hirvonen and kept a fluctuating advantage throughout the day to stay on target for only his third win in New Zealand, among his 71 wins on the World Rally Championship, and his first since 2008.
“It was not an easy day but we are leading at the moment,” said Loeb. “We had the right tyres to attack when we did so no problem there but I do not have many soft tyres left for the rest of the race.”
Conditions were sunny as Solberg started the day on softs, while Loeb elected for softs on the front, hard on the rear.
The Citroen teammates seem the only drivers still in contention to win with seven stages remaining on Sunday.
Ford driver Petter Solberg sits third, a minute and 33 seconds behind Loeb.
“Here we are two days down and still in a proper fight so I’m having a good time,” Hirvonen said.
The DS3 WRC drivers are 1m33s ahead of their nearest rival Petter Solberg, but Matton is concerned that the Norwegian will be a major threat in the damp conditions predicted for Sunday because he has more soft tyres available after using hards instead on Friday morning.
Second leg classification:.
1. Sebastien Loeb (France) Citroen 3:27:51.900
2. Mikko Hirvonen (Finland) Citroen +00:06.400
3. Petter Solberg (Norway) Ford 01:33.300
4. Evgeny Novikov (Russia) Ford 02:02.500
5. Ott Taenak (Estonia) Ford 02:23.800
6. Thierry Neuville (Belgium) Citroen 02:47.200
7. Daniel Sordo (Spain) Mini 03:05.900
8. Jari-Matti Latvala (Finland) Ford 04:58.000
9. Armindo Araujo (Portugal) Mini 08:21.100
10. Ken Block (U.S.) Ford 09:07.600