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Loeb holds off Finnish pair
16:00 AEST Sat Aug 4 2012

French veteran Sebastien Loeb maintained his lead in his Citroen DS3 ahead of Finnish drivers Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala after dominating Friday's second day of action at the Rally of Finland.

Eight-time world champion Loeb, who won here last season, maintained a 5sec advantage on Citroen's Hirvonen with Latvala sitting third for Ford at 15.3sec.

"Fifteen seconds isn't a lot but in Finland it's difficult to make up ground," said Loeb, who expressed his delight at his duel with the Finnish pair.

Championship leader Loeb won four of the day's nine special stages including the opening SS4 at Urria and day-closing 2.06km Killeri superspecial, with Hirvonen winning four of the day's stages.

And Latvala said he feared that the 38-year-old French driver could not be caught.

"To get closer (to Loeb) feels very difficult and I don't know where to take that time. Citroen are very strong at the moment," said Latvala.

Norway's Petter Solberg, the 2003 world champion, moved up to fourth from sixth overnight after winning SS2 and SS11 but lost time and is 21.4sec off the pace while compatriot and stablemate Mads Ostberg dropped to fifth at 47.7sec.