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ERC Valais: Andreas Aigner leads as Craig Breen is penalised

Andreas Aigner Subaru ERC Valais 2013

Andreas Aigner leads the Rally of Valais by 3.7 seconds after the opening day of the European Rally Championship finale as pace-setters Craig Breen and Jeremi Ancian were penalised heavily.

Breen shared the fastest time on Thursday's opening stage with Ancian, his team-mate within the Sainteloc Peugeot squad.

The Irishman then outpaced him on the next test, the eight miles of Anzere, to open up a 5.3s lead, despite hitting a big stone with his right-front tyre and sustaining damage in the impact.

But trouble was already brewing for the pair by this time. Both were stopped by the police on the road section after SS1, the delays meaning that each driver started SS2 out of his allotted position.

Breen and Ancian then checked into SS3 at their originally scheduled times, but were given penalties of two and three minutes respectively for what was now an early check-in, which dropped them a long way off the pace.

Aigner, who has already wrapped up the ERC's Production Cup title for 2013, set top-four times on all three of Thursday's stages in his Group N Subaru Impreza R4.

Esapekka Lappi's works Skoda Fabia S2000 is breathing down his neck, the Finn having lost time with a spin on SS1. Eight-time Valais winner Olivier Burri is third and 18.6s off the lead in his Ford Fiesta S2000.

Leading positions after SS3:

Pos  Driver               Team/Car             Time/Gap
 1.  Andreas Aigner       Stohl Subaru         22m30.6s
 2.  Esapekka Lappi       Skoda                   +3.7s
 3.  Olivier Burri        Zero4 Pui Ford         +22.3s
 4.  Vasily Gryazin       SRT Ford               +23.1s
 5.  Gregoire Hotz        Zero4 Pui Peugeot      +28.7s
 6.  Sebastien Carron     Lugano Peugeot         +44.6s
 7.  Nicolas Althaus      Lugano Peugeot         +49.5s
 8.  Jaroslav Orsak       GPD Skoda              +51.4s
 9.  Florian Gonon        Lugano Subaru        +1m09.8s
10.  Robert Consani       Renault              +1m16.5s
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