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Old 05-02-2010, 07:43 AM   #1
Weasel 555
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Rally Stuff WRC New Zealand May 6-9 talk/results spoiler**


Round 5: WRC New Zealand - May 6th-9th.




Official Website: rallynz.org.nz/

Rally New Zealand is the oldest WRC event in the Southern Hemisphere and is renowned for its fast flowing gravel roads and the beautiful landscape of the country’s North Island.

Blind crests, fast jumps, flat-out kinks and huge cambers make the roads more challenging than most, but their sweeping, undulating nature means most WRC drivers love them. When it's sunny, the stages can be glorious, but when it rains, they can turn muddy and extremely slippery.

The challenging terrain rewards the drivers with the very best car control. You need to be brave to do well in New Zealand but the high speeds mean the slightest mistake is punished severely.

In its 40th anniversary year, Rally New Zealand has moved 200km north from Hamilton, its base for the past three years, to a new home in the heart of the country's biggest city, Auckland. The next three editions of the rally will be run from here.

A return to Auckland means some classic high-speed stages in the Northland region are back on the itinerary after a four year absence, as well as more familiar tests in the Franklin and north Waikato districts to the south of the city. Mixed surface stages and two Super Specials are also on the cards.

New for 2010
Two new Super Special Stages: One all-asphalt test will be built at the recently completed Hampton Downs motor racing circuit, the other in Auckland's oldest park - the 75 hectare Auckland Domain.

A new Service Park will be located on Auckland's Queens Wharf, a short walk from the downtown area.

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Old 05-05-2010, 01:13 AM   #2
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Don't really care who wins as long as it isn't Loeb
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Old 05-05-2010, 10:50 AM   #3
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No one else running but Loeb...
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Old 05-05-2010, 11:14 AM   #4
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^ Hahaha
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Old 05-05-2010, 08:19 PM   #5
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If Mikko doesn't beat Loab here he might as well get an S2000 car out and get ready for next year, he is already down 41 points and even with the new scoring system that's going to be hard to make up.
And I would like to see Petter beat the both of them in the Privateer car.
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Old 05-06-2010, 07:18 AM   #6
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Latvala quickest in Rally New Zealand Shakedown



Finn Jari-Matti Latvala was the fastest driver at the pre-event shakedown for Rally New Zealand earlier today, with defending World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb his closest rival.

The four hour test took place on a 1.5km asphalt road in the Auckland Domain - a park nestled in the centre of the city. The same section will be driven competitively on Friday as SS9. Weather conditions were dry and sunny throughout with a temperature peaking at 16 degrees Celsius.

With the vast majority of the rally based on gravel roads, the sealed-surface Shakedown was of limited value as a set-up exercise, but was an unusual opportunity for the drivers to recce a rally stage at competitive speed.

"I was determined to set the fastest time because in the past on this surface I've lost out to the pace of the Citroens," said Ford Focus driver Latvala, who posted his best time on his sixth run. "We struggled on the asphalt Super Special in Australia last year but now I think we've found a set-up which gives us an edge."

Loeb set his best time - which was two-tenths slower than Latvala's - on his fourth and final pass. "It wasn't a difficult Shakedown but we weren't able to get much of a feeling for the event on it," said the Frenchman. "Normally Shakedown gives us a final chance to adjust the set-up, but with no pre-event test we haven't been able to do anything much. It should be okay though, we're not changing the set-up too much from rally to rally."

After a ceremonial start in the Auckland this evening, the opening stage of the rally, the 11.09km Waipu Gorge, gets underway at 0903hrs on Friday

Shakedown times of the WRC drivers:

1. LATVALA. Ford Focus RS WRC 09. 1:07.3
2. LOEB. Citroen C4 WRC. 1:07.5
3. HIRVONEN. Ford Focus RS WRC 09. 1:07.6
4. P. SOLBERG. Citroen C4 WRC. 1:07.7
=5. SORDO. Citroen C4 WRC. 1:07.8
=5. H.SOLBERG. Ford Focus RS WRC 08. 1:07.8
7. OGIER. Citroen C4 WRC. 1:08.3
=8. VILLAGRA. Ford Focus RS WRC 08. 1:08.5
=8. WILSON. Ford Focus RS WRC 08. 1:08.5

Click: wrc.com.NZ_Shakedown_Times

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Old 05-06-2010, 02:08 PM   #7
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There's a rumor floating around the Michelle Mouton has been asked to be WRC Commissioner and she's on the record wanting to end the sprint nature of WRC events. I was a bit disappointed Todt edged out Ari for the FIA spot but this goes a long way to change my mind if it's true.
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Old 05-07-2010, 04:31 AM   #8
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Rally Stuff

Day 1

SS1: Petter takes the early lead


Citroen C4 WRC driver Petter Solberg got his Rally New Zealand off to the best possible start by going fastest through the opening stage.

The Norwegian completed the 11.09km Waipu Gorge test 2.4sec faster than his closest rival, Citroen Junior Team driver Sebastien Ogier.

Ford driver Jari-Matti rounded off the top three times, stopping the clock 2.9sec slower than Solberg.

Defending World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb was first to tackle the stage and completed it in the fourth-fastest time, 3.5sec slower than Solberg.




---------------------------------

SS2: Ogier responds

Citroen Junior Team driver Sebastien Ogier was the quickest driver through the second stage of Rally New Zealand, to narrow the gap on leader Petter Solberg to half a second.

Ogier, running fifth through Friday's stages, set a time of 8min 13.7sec through the 13km Brooks test. His closest challenger was Briton Matthew Wilson, who fired his Stobart team Ford Focus RS though the section just 1.2sec slower.

Ford team leader Mikko Hirvonen was third fastest and moved ahead of his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala into third overall.




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Old 05-07-2010, 04:40 AM   #9
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SS3: Sordo leaps into the lead



Citroen C4 WRC driver Dani Sordo leapt from sixth place into the lead of Rally New Zealand after a crushing stage win on SS3 - the longest of the event.

The Spaniard, sixth in Friday's running order, completed the 32km Bull stage seven seconds clear of his closest rival, Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala.

The result gives Sordo a rally lead of 4.6sec over Sebastien Ogier, while Latvala moves up to third.

The stage proved problematic for Ford Focus drivers Matthew Wilson and Henning Solberg. Wilson lost the side window from his door mid stage while Solberg reported worrying noises from his car's transmission.



------------------------------------
SS4: Loeb hits trouble



Defending World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb lost around 80 seconds on SS4 when he slid wide and side-swiped a narrow bridge with his C4 World Rally Car.

The incident happened 5.4km into the 22km Cassidy stage and left his Citroen with extensive side panel damage and a door which he had to hold shut with a Velcro strap.

Loeb's team-mate Dani Sordo was the stage winner and extended his overall rally lead to 5.5sec. Jari-Matti Latvala was second quickest with Sebastien Ogier rounding off the three fastest times.



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Old 05-07-2010, 04:45 AM   #10
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Midday update: Sordo leads after Loeb runs into trouble

The result was just as Sebastien Loeb had predicted: he wasn’t leading. The good news for the Citroen team is that his team-mate Dani Sordo is out front after the first four stages of Rally New Zealand.

The news of the Spaniard’s early success did little to cheer the championship leader’s mood. He’d had a bad morning, bouncing his C4 off a bridge in the fourth stage and dropping to eighth place.

Loeb knew he was in for a tough time on the opening morning, with no rain on the stages north of Auckland, they were covered in loose gravel, forcing the Frenchman to sweep them clean.

While Loeb struggled at the front, Petter Solberg made the perfect start with fastest time on SS1 - despite running second on the road just behind Loeb. Rally New Zealand rookie Sebastien Ogier won the next stage, with Sordo making his move in Bull, the day’s third test. Sordo was seven seconds faster than anybody to move into the lead. Fastest time in stage four cemented his 5.5 second advantage from Ogier at the remote service in Whangarei.

“The morning has been good,” said Sordo, “but the rally will not be decided here. We have to think about the rest of the event. I’m happy for now, though - but the difference is not so big between the cars. Maybe the road is not cleaning quite so much.”

There was a big difference between his Citroen and the number one version of Loeb - almost two minutes to be precise. “I lost the back of the car on the entry to a tight corner over a bridge,” said Loeb. “The back of the car slid and hit the bridge. I thought it was okay, so we drove on, but it wasn’t and I was about to lose the door. I knew it was just a remote service after, so I had to keep the door. I stopped for one minute to try and close the door. I couldn’t so I held it closed. The dust was very bad.”

Two seconds behind the delighted Ogier in third was first Ford Jari-Matti Latvala. The Finn’s Focus was three up on Petter Solberg, with Mikko Hirvonen fifth, 17.7 seconds down on Sordo.

Read More Click: wrc.com/news=midday_update

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Old 05-07-2010, 04:50 AM   #11
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SS5: Ogier the new leader



A fastest time for Citroen Junior Team driver Sebastien Ogier on SS5 meant he became the third man to lead Rally New Zealand on the opening day of the competition.

Ogier completed the brand new 9km Springfield stage in 5min 36.5sec, six-tenths quicker than Sebastien Loeb who was his closest rival.

Former rally leader Dani Sordo completed the stage 7.6sec slower than Ogier and dropped back to third in the overall standings, 2.1sec off Ogier's lead. The Spaniard declined to comment at the finish control.



----------------------------------

SS6: Ogier fastest again



Sebastien Ogier notched up his third stage win of the day on SS6 to extend his lead of Rally New Zealand to 3.6sec.

Ogier was fastest on the earlier run through the 13km Brooks stage (SS2) and took the honours again on the repeat - beating his earlier time by more than 16 seconds.

Ogier's namesake Sebastien Loeb was his closest rival through the stage, just three tenths slower. Petter Solberg rounded off the top three times.




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Old 05-07-2010, 04:55 AM   #12
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SS7: Leaders shuffle again



The lead of Rally New Zealand changed hands for the fourth time today on SS7 when Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala moved ahead of Sebastien Ogier into first place.

Sebastien Loeb was fastest though the repeated Bull stage but remained 1min 23sec adrift of the leaders after his earlier crash. Petter Solberg was second quickest with Jari-Matti Latvala rounding off the top three stage times.



--------------------------------------
SS8: Petter into the lead



Citroen privateer Petter Solberg emerged from the repeated Cassidy section (SS8) as leader of Rally New Zealand and the man with the dubious honour of being first in Saturday's start order.

Solberg was the fastest driver through Cassidy, to move back into the rally lead he lost on SS3.

Jari-Matti Latvala and Sebastien Ogier slipped behind Solberg into second and third places respectively.

With just the 1.5km Auckland Domain Super Special stage to run today, only 6.7sec separates the top four drivers.




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Old 05-07-2010, 05:05 AM   #13
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End of Day 1



WRC Friday wrap: Solberg on top in New Zealand

Petter Solberg will start day two of Rally New Zealand in the lead following a dramatic start to round five of the World Rally Championship on the stages north of host city Auckland.

However, Sebastien Loeb, who began the event with a 40-point lead in the drivers’ standings, is more than one minute off the pace following a major scare on the event’s fourth stage when he struck a bridge in his Citroen C4 WRC and lost vital time trying to keep his driver’s door closed.

Solberg, at the wheel of a privately-run C4, held the lead after the opening two stages but slipped behind Loeb’s team-mate Dani Sordo, falling to fourth before striking back in the afternoon to go fastest through stage eight, the repeat of the Cassidy test where Loeb hit trouble in the morning, which handed him the overnight advantage.

“It has been very good today,” said Solberg. “I have been calm, controlled and I feel great. The main thing for me is to know that Seb is behind me.”

Solberg will begin day two at the head of the field, which will mean he will have to clean the road of the loose surface gravel. “I just have to deal with it,” said the 2003 world champion. “Seb has done a good job today [cleaning the road] and I didn’t do so bad myself [running just behind].”

Ford’s Jari-Matti Latvala is second heading into day two, despite reporting that he wasn’t happy with his driving during the morning’s loop of four stages. He heads Citroen Junior Team’s Sebastien Ogier, who was fastest on three of Friday’s eight gravel stages.

Dani Sordo is fourth in the second works C4, having led after four stages. At the remote service halt in Whangarei, the Spaniard conceded that he might not be able to maintain his advantage through the afternoon and was proved right. “The morning was good but it will not decide the rally,” said Sordo. “The difference is not so big between the cars and I am really happy and enjoying it.”

Mikko Hirvonen is fifth overnight in the second works Focus and admitted he hadn’t been pleased with his performance. “I have been pushing really hard and haven’t made any mistakes but I just couldn’t go any faster,” said the Finn. “It has not been a good day.”

Read More Click: wrc.com/news=friday_wrap

---------------------------------------

P-WRC Friday wrap: Paddon keeps Kiwi hopes alive

After the first two Rally New Zealand stages this morning, the Production Car World Rally Championship had the makings of an absolute classic: three drivers were split by just 2.2 seconds - and two of them were Kiwis, keeping the local fans firmly on their toes.

As day one closes, the leaderboard has a far more settled look about it, with Hayden Paddon two minutes clear in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX.

Despite being just 23 years old Paddon is already something of a celebrity in New Zealand rallying circles, having won the national title for the last two seasons. For this year, however, Paddon has gone global.

He won the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship nomination for the Pirelli Star Driver scheme and is adding in P-WRC rounds here in New Zealand and in Japan to offer himself the best possible chance of adding a world title to his two domestic crowns. And his hopes of world glory took a step forward with a fine day behind the wheel of his Team Green car on the Northland roads today.

Paddon is no stranger to these stages - a fact reflected in his domination of the leaderboard as the day unfolded.

Fastest out of the blocks this morning was Subaru driver Richard Mason. Chasing New Zealand Championship as well as P-WRC points, Mason was unbeaten for the first three stages, but dropped behind Paddon when he was caught in another crew’s dust on the first run through Cassidy. That would be the least of his problems, however. Two stages later, his fine run ended in the trees when he put his Impreza off the road in SS6.

Japanese Toshi Arai had been the third driver in the cracking early tussle, but, once again, the double P-WRC champion’s event turned sour after he broke a cross-member on the third stage of the day. “I ran a little bit wide in one corner,” said Arai. “And I hit the back wheel on a bridge in the third stage. It broke the cross-member and we dropped more time in the fourth stage. Not so good, again. It’s very disappointing after a close start.”

Arai was forced out of the event three stages after the remote service. Unable to fix the problem, he stopped - with his Impreza also suffering from power steering issues.

Read More Click: wrc.com/news=PWRC_wrap

--------------------------------------
S-WRC Friday wrap: Ketomaa leads despite car troubles

After the opening day of competition in Rally New Zealand, Jari Ketomaa holds the overnight lead in the Super 2000 World Rally Championship class, despite a few scares aboard his Ford Fiesta.

The Finn has topped the division throughout day one and returned to service in Auckland tonight 22.5 seconds in front of Xevi Pons. But Ketomaa’s day hasn’t gone entirely to plan.

His car’s crank sensor began to fail during the third stage and stopped working altogether ahead of Friday afternoon’s five stages which restricted engine performance. At the completion of stage four, his Fiesta’s engine refused to fire up and Ketomaa and co-driver Mika Sternberg spent 15 minutes on the phone to their Shanghai FCACA Rally Team obtaining instructions to get the engine restarted.

Ketomaa has remained upbeat, however, and said: “The gap is okay, we have had some problems, including with dust, but we are quite happy. We are leading but we now have some work to do to the car.”

In contrast Pons, who heads the S2000 title standings following back-to-back wins in Mexico and Jordan in a similar Fiesta, reported no major problems. He said: “The car has been good but I made some mistakes this morning. I have just tried to concentrate more this afternoon and it has worked.”

Martin Prokop completes a Fiesta podium lockout but was unable to explain the time loss he has experienced today. “The car feels okay and I am happy with my driving but we are losing lots of time and I don’t understand why.”

Read More Click: wrc.com/News=SWRC_wrap


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Old 05-07-2010, 11:05 AM   #14
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I really hope solberg gets a win in this rally hes past due for one
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Old 05-07-2010, 03:36 PM   #15
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I can't wait for the vids.

Good for Petter. It really was "the car" before.
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Old 05-07-2010, 06:19 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chimchimm5 View Post
I can't wait for the vids.

Good for Petter. It really was "the car" before.
that's what I'm getting out of this also
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Old 05-07-2010, 07:41 PM   #17
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just got finished watching day1 and i'm really pulling for Petter. If Loeb pulls this one out i'm giving up on WRC
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Old 05-08-2010, 03:33 AM   #18
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Day 1 was so promising, with Petter in the lead, and a real close battle for the top 5. AND Seb screwed up and was 1:25 down.

Then I just read the day 2 times and it appears once again that Seb is not human. How else could he make up that kind of time in one day? I guess it had to do with starting order and having a clean line (and he's not human).

Mikko just doesn't seem motivated the last two events. Latvala has outrun him this weekend.
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Old 05-08-2010, 04:40 AM   #19
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Rally Stuff

Day 2

SS10: Ogier takes the rally lead




Citroen Junior Team driver Sebastien Ogier was the big winner on Saturday's opening stage in Rally New Zealand, jumping up from third place into the lead of the event.

The Frenchman, third in today's running order, overturned the advantages of Petter Solberg and Jari-Matti Latvala who were ahead of him on Friday night.

The fastest man on the stage however was Sebastien Loeb, who was 4.1sec quicker than anybody else as he fights to regain time lost in a crash on day one.

Ford's team-leader Mikko Hirvonen completed the stage 24sec slower than Ogier after spinning mid-stage and hitting a bank. Hirvonen believes the impact might have affected his car's handling.



---------------------------------------

SS11: Petter up to second



Former World Champion Petter Solberg moved up to second place on Saturday's second stage, thanks in part to a slow time from Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala.

Solberg now lies 9.2sec adrift of rally leader Sebastien Ogier, while Latvala - who was sixth-fastest on SS11 - is just one second behind the Norwegian.

Defending champion Sebastien Loeb was the stage winner, completing the 21km section 6.1sec quicker than anyone else. He remains sixth in the overall standings, 23.8sec behind title rival Mikko Hirvonen in fifth.



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Old 05-08-2010, 04:45 AM   #20
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SS12: Loeb the comeback king



Sebastien Loeb set a remarkable time though the 30km Te Akau Coast to put himself firmly back in the fight for victory on Rally New Zealand.

The Citroen star side-swiped a bridge on the rally's opening day - an incident which cost him more than 80 seconds. But on SS11, after his four consecutive stage win, Loeb lies just 1.5sec behind fifth-placed Mikko Hirvonen and 38sec off the lead.

Hirvonen was Loeb's closest rival on Te Akau Coast - but was 22 seconds slower.



---------------------------------------

SS13: Ogier fastest on race track Super Special



Rally leader Sebastien Ogier set the fastest time through the last test before midday service - the 4.6km Super Special on the Hampton Downs motor racing circuit.

Ogier set a time of 2min 38.3sec around the all-asphalt stage, with fellow C4 driver Sebastien Loeb his closest challenger - two-tenths slower.

Petter Solberg moved up a place to fourth in the overall standings despite tackling the stage with a puncture.




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Old 05-08-2010, 04:49 AM   #21
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Midday update: Ogier leads, but it’s a Loeb masterclass

Overnight leader Petter Solberg’s hopes that the road surface would be similar to yesterday were dashed on the first corner this morning - that’s how long it took for the Norwegian to realise he was in for a tough three stages. Two cars further back, Sebastien Ogier made his move and leapfrogged his way to the front of the field.

Ogier was second only to Sebastien Loeb on the first two stages of the morning. Third quickest for the Citroen Junior Team driver on the Te Akau Coast was enough for him to arrive at the Hamilton Downs Super Special with a 12.6-second advantage at the top of the timesheets. Ford’s Jari-Matti Latvala was second, with Dani Sordo third.

The one thing which united the three drivers, however, was their admiration for what Loeb achieved this morning. “It was unbelievable time from Loeb,” said the leader, referring to the 22 seconds the six-time champion lifted out of everybody in the 30-kilometre SS12. “It looks like he can do what he likes. For me, I try to keep the driving neat and tidy - no mistakes.”

Loeb’s efforts moved him up to sixth place. He said: “I was pushing hard, I thought the long stage was somewhere I could make a difference, so I tried. I made no big mistakes. It was okay. I was really on the limit in some places, but no more than I had been yesterday when I was trying to limit how much time I was losing.”

Loeb will begin the afternoon loop just 0.7 seconds behind Mikko Hirvonen. The Finn’s hopes of making the most of his fifth place on the road went awry when he spun seven kilometres into the morning’s opener. He clouted a bank and damaged the left-rear tyre on the Ford.

Read More Click: WRC.com/News=Midday_Wrap


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Old 05-08-2010, 04:50 AM   #22
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That chart doesn't match the sentence above it.

What the hell does it take to shut Loeb down? I know this has been said before, but I'm really, really tired of seeing him win constantly. Let him stay right where he is right now and I'd be happy.
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Old 05-08-2010, 04:56 AM   #23
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SS14: Loeb leaps up to third



Sebastien Loeb recorded another crushing stage victory on the repeated New Franklin stage (SS14), completing it 10.4sec quicker than anybody else to move third in the overall standings.

The defending world champion leapfrogged Mikko Hirvonen, Dani Sordo and Petter Solberg to slot in 10.5sec behind Jari-Matti Latvala.

After his accident on SS4 on Friday Loeb found himself 1min 40sec behind the rally lead. After SS14 the gap was down to 28.3sec.

Rally leader Sebastien Ogier was closest to Loeb's time on New Franklin. The Citroen Junior Team driver extended his advantage to 17.8sec.



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SS15: Loeb up to second



Another dominant performance through the 21km Baker stage netted Sebastien Loeb another place on the overall leaderboard, with the Frenchman sliding past Jari-Matti Latvala into second.

Heading to the repeated Te Akau Coast - the stage which determines Sunday's road order - Loeb trails leader Sebastien Ogier by 19.6sec and lies 4.5sec ahead of Latvala.




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Old 05-08-2010, 05:03 AM   #24
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SS16: Ogier takes first in Sunday's start order



Sebastien Ogier will be the first driver through Sunday's four stages after holding the rally lead at the end of SS16 - Saturday's final gravel stage.

Ogier's position as road sweeper should prove beneficial to Sebastien Loeb who looks likely to be second on the road on Sunday.

Loeb was the fastest driver through SS16 and narrowed the gap to Ogier to just 5.1sec. Ogier set the second-fastest time on the stage, 14.5sec slower than his namesake, while Mikko Hirvonen rounded off the top three times.



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End of Day 2

SS17: Ogier fastest on Super Special




Sebastien Ogier was the fastest driver through Saturday's final test - the repeated Super Special at Hampton Downs - to secure an overnight rally lead of 5.3 seconds over fellow Citroen pilot Sebastien Loeb.

The win was the second at Hampton Downs for Ogier, who was quickest on the earlier pass as SS13.

Petter Solberg and Sebastien Loeb shared the honour of being Ogier's closest rivals on the race track stage - both were just two-tenths slower.

Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala was fifth fastest through the stage to hold third in the overall standings, 27.9sec behind Loeb.



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Old 05-08-2010, 05:12 AM   #25
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Rally Stuff

WRC Saturday wrap: Ogier leads but Loeb is close behind



Sebastien Ogier is four stages away from a sensational debut victory on Rally New Zealand - providing he can fend off Sebastien Loeb on the final day of the world championship event.

Loeb, the six-time world champion, was 1m19.8s adrift of the lead at the start of day two following a disastrous run through Friday’s fourth stage when he damaged his Citroen C4 WRC’s side door striking a bridge.

But a sensational performance by Loeb has catapulted the world championship leader to within touching distance of a fourth consecutive win after he went fastest on all six of Saturday’s gravel stages. He will start day three of the Auckland-based event 5.3 seconds behind Citroen Junior Team driver Ogier, who is chasing his first WRC victory in only his second full season in the global series.

"It has been in incredible day; flat-out from the start to the end and now we've made up the gap to first place," said Loeb. "We're five seconds behind Sebastien and everything is possible again. I'm really happy. I think I couldn’t do better," added the 36-year-old Frenchman, who said he had made the most of starting seventh on the road.

Click: WRC.com/News=Saturday_Wrap

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Paddon continues to dominate P-WRC



Mitsubishi driver Hayden Paddon didn’t put a wheel wrong through the second day of Rally New Zealand and holds a healthy 2min 36sec class lead over Emma Gilmour (Subaru).

Kingsley Thompson remains third in a Mitsubishi, more than four minutes behind Gilmour, with the closest non-New Zealander being Chinese Chaodong Liu, who is almost five minutes down on Thompson and more than 11 behind leader Paddon.

The only driver able to beat Paddon on the longer, gravel stages today was Toshi Arai. The Subaru driver returned under the Superally regulations, following his suspension damage yesterday. Arai was fastest on three of the long stages, recovering to sixth overall in the P-WRC category by the end of the day.

Paddon said: “It was quite tough this morning. The car was oversteering quite a bit. We were trying to get some more grip from the rear, but I think it might have been due to the level of loose gravel on the roads. It was better through the afternoon, when the roads had been completely swept. It’s been another good day for us, but with a good lead in the Production class, we have to just keep our concentration through the final day.”

Click: WRC.com/News=PWRC_wrap

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S-WRC Saturday wrap: Ketomaa closes on Super 2000 victory



Jari Ketomaa is on the verge of landing his first win of the inaugural Super 2000 World Rally Championship season after an impressive run through Saturday’s eight stages in his Ford Fiesta.

Ketomaa began day two 22.5 seconds clear of title leader Xevi Pons but has extended his advantage to more than one minute over the Spaniard. With four stages remaining, Ketomaa is well-placed to claim victory, even though he wasn’t entirely happy after the morning loop.

“It was not perfect because we were struggling in the slow sections with understeer,” said Ketomaa. “I was at the limit and knew there was not much more time left in me but it has been a good day and I have got into a good rhythm.”

If Ketomaa is still in front at the finish in Auckland on Sunday afternoon then he will owe a debt of gratitude to his Shanghai FCACA Rally Team mechanics after they replaced a faulty crank sensor in his Fiesta on Friday evening, which involved moving part of the engine to carry out the change. However, insufficient time meant they were unable to replace a problematic clutch. “It was not slipping but it was not releasing properly either but we have been able to live with it,” said Ketomaa.

Click: WRC.com/News=SWRC_wrap


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