Reigning eight-times world champion Sebastien Loeb leads Rally Argentina by 7.2 seconds from Citroen colleague Mikko Hirvonen after day three.

Between them they won the opening three stages of the day, but thereafter settled for consolidation as Petter Solberg, back on course after retiring from Friday's action with a broken steering arm, won three successive stages.

Loeb led by only a tenth of a second overnight but stretched his margin to almost four seconds as he won the opening stage of the day, with Solberg second ahead of Hirvonen.

The Finn pulled a second and a half back on stage eight, with Loeb third behind Solberg, and pipped his great rival and team-mate by 0.3 seconds on the next to trail by 2.1secs.

Solberg boosted his climb through the field by winning the next two stages, with Dani Sordo second on SS10 from San Agustin to Santa Rosa.

Loeb was third and Hirvonen fifth, separated by Citroen junior driver Thierry Neuville, while the pair finished second and third on stage 11 as Loeb extended his overall lead to 7.7secs.

With third-placed Sordo a further minute and a half back, the leading duo preserved their positions at the head of the field in the remainder of the day - leaving Solberg and Neuville to lead the field home in stage 12.

After the second visit to the service park, the day's racing concluded with Thierry Neuville setting the fastest time through the superspecial stage on the outskirts of Villa Carlos Paz.