FIA World Rally Championship

Loeb Leads In Germany As Citroen Duo Dominate Day 1

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Sebastien Loeb leads Rallye Deutschland at the end of a first day dominated by the eight-time winner of the event and his Citroen teammate Sebastien Ogier.

Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala was fastest through SS1 Ruwertal/Fell, but he and teammate Mikko Hirvonen fell back on SS2 Grafschaft Veldenz. The Finns were caught out by wet conditions on the stage, with the hard compound tyres they were running not as suited to the slippery surface as the softs used by the Citroen duo.

With Latvala and Hirvonen dropping 31.6 and 40.6 seconds respectively to stage winner Ogier, the younger Frenchman took the rally lead, with Loeb just 1.3s behind. Loeb then took the lead of the rally by winning SS3 Moselland.

Ogier won SS4 to close the gap to Loeb, but the seven-time champion then won the following two tests to extend his lead to 7.4s overnight.

Hirvonen lies third, 1m18.4s off the lead. He damaged his suspension when he hit a wall on SS4, but managed to repair it and continue. Latvala meanwhile picked up a puncture on SS3, dropping him to seventh, before engine problems throughout the afternoon have left him more than six minutes behind and 15th on the leaderboard.

Engine problems have left Latvala out of contention. Photo:

The two factory Minis of Dani Sordo and Kris Meeke have been running well on their asphalt debut, and lie fourth and fifth, separated by 17.3s. Meeke is just 2.2s ahead of Petter Solberg. Petter's brother Henning Solberg is next up in seventh, just ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Dennis Kuipers, with the Dutchman showing competitively on his closest rally to home.

Armindo Araujo rounds out the top ten in his Motorsport Italia-entered Mini. Local ace Aaron Burkart was 11th on his debut in the Ford Fiesta RS WRC until a brake problem stopped him on the final stage of the day. Peter van Merksteijn Jr. has inherited the place, ahead of Matthew Wilson.

Ott Tanak leads the Super 2000 runners in 13th. Juho Hanninen had been 12s ahead of the Estonian until ripping a rear wheel off on the final stage of the day, which has seen him drop over a minute behind into 16th overall.

Hans Weijs Jr. is 14th and second in S2000 in his Volkswagen Motorsport-entered Skoda Fabia. Teammate Christian Riedemann is 23rd. Ken Block, fresh from releasing his latest Gymkhana video earlier this week is 17th, having gone off the road on SS4. Pierre Campana is 22nd on his debut in the Mini WRC, while Mads Ostberg is 27th in his Stobart Fiesta after damaging his suspension on the first test. Patrik Flodin stopped in his Mini on SS2.

Spaniard Yeray Lemes leads in the WRC Academy, ahead of Craig Breen and Andrea Crugnola. Egon Kaur, winner of all three events so far, is fifth.

Top ten positions after SS6:

Pos No Driver Team Car Time/Gap
1. 1 Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total Citroen DS3 WRC 1:18:21.4
2. 2 Sebastien Ogier Citroen Total Citroen DS3 WRC +7.4
3. 3 Mikko Hirvonen Ford Abu Dhabi Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1:18.4
4. 37 Dani Sordo Mini Mini John Cooper Works WRC +1:40.3
5. 52 Kris Meeke Mini Mini John Cooper Works WRC +1:57.6
6. 11 Petter Solberg PSWRT Citroen DS3 WRC +1:59.8
7. 15 Henning Solberg M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC +3:22.1
8. 8 Kimi Raikkonen Ice 1 Citroen DS3 WRC +3:25.5
9. 9 Dennis Kuipers FERM Ford Fiesta RS WRC +3:31.7
10. 17 Armindo Araujo Motorsport Italia Mini John Cooper Works WRC +4:22.4
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