Loeb crashes at Rally Australia

Seven-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb.
Seven-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb.

THERE was high drama on Rally Australia's fourth stage when Sebastien Loeb rolled his Citroen DS3 WRC into retirement.

Loeb was leading the world championship qualifier by 2.0s after winning the opening test, but hit trouble barely a handful of kilometres into the gravel stage.

Both he and co-driver Daniel Elena are uninjured but it's not clear how much damage their car has sustained.

American Ken Block has also hit a tree and his Ford has sustained front end damage.

The world champion's exit hands team-mate Sebastien Ogier a lead of 10.4s over Ford's Mikko Hirvonen heading to the final stage of this morning's loop.

Ogier was third quickest through the stage, 5.8s slower than winner Petter Solberg, who has climbed to third in the overall classification.

Loeb's last roll on a WRC event occurred on the second day of the Acropolis Rally in Greece in June 2009, exactly two years two months and 27 days ago.

How the action unfolded:
With heavy rain making driving conditions increasingly treacherous Mikko Hirvonen has narrowed Sebastien Ogier's lead on Rally Australia to 9.1s after the Ford driver edged his Citroen rival through stage five.

Jari-Matti Latvala was fastest through the test despite his Fiesta RS WRC nursing damaged steering following his off-road moment on stage three. The Finn has moved ahead of Petter Solberg into third position in the overall classification after Solberg suffered a high-speed spin.

Ogier, who moved to the top of the overall leaderboard following Sebastien Loeb's dramatic roll on stage four, said: "It's pressure but it's difficult to drive, very slippery. The tyres are not working so I have to drive with no risk. The plan is still the same, we try to do a good rally and score good points. That's it for me. The rally is still long and anything can happen."

Hirvonen added: "It's incredibly tricky - every corner the grip is different and you never know how the grip is. If you go too fast that's it."

Henning Solberg spun his M-Sport Stobart Fiesta but was able to set a time faster than team-mate Matthew Wilson.

Crews are now heading back to service at Coffs Harbour's regional airport.

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Topics:  coffs world rally championship 2011

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