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Loeb increases advantage in Cyprus Rally

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  • World champion Sebastien Loeb increases his advantage in the Cyprus Rally
  • The Frenchman is 49.8 seconds ahead of Mikko Hirvonen ahead of final day
  • Ford driver Hirvonen moved up to second as Dani Sordo dropped to third place
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(CNN) -- World champion Sebastien Loeb increased his advantage in the Cyprus Rally by eight seconds on Saturday after claiming another stage victory on the gravel roads around Limassol.

Loeb looks to be powering to another rally victory after increasing his lead on the roads of Cyprus.

Loeb looks to be powering to another rally victory after increasing his lead on the roads of Cyprus.

The Citroen driver won five of the six stages on the asphalt on day one and his stage nine success helped him extend his lead with Ford's Mikko Hirvonen moving up to second overall with Loeb's Citroen team-mate Dani Sordo dropping down to third position.

In the first morning stage at the Anadiou Dam, Jari-Matti Latvala took first place in a time of 11 minutes 2.4 seconds, with Hirvonen 4.7 seconds behind in second and Loeb third.

Hirvonen responded on stage eight, winning by 1.5 seconds from Loeb in a time of 30:29.80 to leapfrog Sordo in the overall standings, but the Frenchman again underlined his class with victory on stage nine, the last of the morning session.

It came despite a spin in the muddy conditions at Orkontas, with Loeb telling PA Sport: "I'm not taking massive risks but I'm pushing hard and had a spin in a slow hairpin, but still that's a really good time.

"I didn't lose much -- five seconds I think -- but we are still faster because I was in a really good driving rhythm," he added.

Petter Solberg was fastest on stage 10 but Loeb finished just one place behind Hirvonen in sixth to extend his advantage over the Finn in the overall standings to over a minute.

Solberg ran fastest on stage 11 at Kourdali with Latvala a long way back in second, and Hirvonen's fourth-place finish enabled him to at least rein in Loeb to within 49.8 seconds overall, with the final three stages taking place on Sunday.

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