WRC - Loeb takes secure lead into final day

Sebastien Loeb will start the final day of Rally Argentina with a 39.8-second lead over Sebastien Ogier.

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French driver Sebastien Loeb jumps with his Citroen DS3 WRC with his co-driver Daniel Elena from Monaco during the 6th stage of the WRC Argentina 2013 near Villa del Dique, Cordoba, Argentina (AFP)

A mistake on SS7 and puncture on SS8 left Ogier half a minute adrift of Loeb and convinced him to settle for second place.

Ogier's Volkswagen outpaced Loeb's Citroen by half a second in their head-to-head on the evening superspecial that closed Friday's action, but that made scant impact on the overall standings.

The closest battle on Saturday is likely to be for third position.

Evgeny Novikov holds the place overnight following the multiple dramas of stage nine, but Jari-Matti Latvala's Volkswagen - earlier delayed by a puncture - is just 8.2s adrift having set the pace on the superspecial.

Mikko Hirvonen needs problems elsewhere to make progress from the sixth place he was left in after his puncture and electronic problems on Friday afternoon. He is three minutes behind fifth-placed Thierry Neuville and four minutes in front of Mads Ostberg in seventh.

Andreas Mikkelsen will return under Rally2 on Saturday morning still in the top 10 despite his penalties for the stages missed after he damaged his suspension in an impact with a bridge on Friday afternoon.

The Norwegian is classified ninth, just ahead of Dani Sordo, as both prepare to hunt down Martin Prokop.

Loeb had promised to take the fight to Ogier on day two and immediately started gaining on his arch-rival on the opening Santa Rosa stage.

A mistake near the end of SS6 then sent Loeb off the road briefly, costing him a handful of seconds and bringing stage winner Ogier's lead up to 16s.

But the tables turned on the following Amboy stage, as Ogier dropped 44s with an error of his own.

"It was a long slow corner and then there was big mud on the exit," said Ogier.

"We understeered and had to reverse. My handbrake didn't work to save me."

Fastest of all on Amboy despite running first on the road, the Norwegian's M-Sport Ford is back up to ninth.

Ostberg stormed away from fellow returnee Dani Sordo, whose Citroen was slightly drowned in a stage-six water splash.

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