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WRC NEWS 

Sordo leads as Loeb hits trouble

Dani SordoDani Sordo has taken a narrow early lead in the Rally New Zealand, while his Citroen team leader Sebastien Loeb has lost over a minute after clipping a bridge.

Loeb had initially been pleased that he was able to stay in touch with the frontrunners despite running first on the road. He was just 3.6 seconds adrift of the top spot after the first two stages, although he fell 15s away after the long Bull stage.

Then on the Cassidy stage Loeb ran wide, clouted his Citroen against a bridge, and lost further time stopping to try and shut the car's damaged door, leaving him eighth.

"We went off on a narrow bridge. I started to slide before I hit it," Loeb explained. "We could start again, but the problem was the door was open and it would not close."

Petter Solberg (Solberg Citroen) and Sebastien Ogier (Citroen Junior) had run first and second initially, before Sordo jumped up from sixth to the lead with a stunning win on the 32-kilometre Bull stage.

The Spaniard was fastest on SS4 too, giving him a 5s cushion over Ogier, who now has Jari-Matti Latvala in the best of the Fords right on his tail.

Ogier is the only Citroen Junior entry this weekend, with New Zealand not part of his regular team-mate Kim Raikkonen's scheduled programme.

Solberg has slipped back to fourth, ahead of Ford team leader Mikko Hirvonen.

Stobart Ford's Matthew Wilson was right up with the leaders at first, and was second fastest through SS2, but he then lost time when a side window broke, filling the car with dust. He still holds sixth despite this glitch.

Pos  Driver              Car       Time/Gap
 1.  Dani Sordo          Citroen   48m32.8s
 2.  Sebastien Ogier     Citroen     + 5.5s
 3.  Jari-Matti Latvala  Ford        + 6.5s
 4.  Petter Solberg      Citroen     + 9.5s
 5.  Mikko Hirvonen      Ford       + 17.7s
 6.  Matthew Wilson      Ford       + 29.0s
 7.  Henning Solberg     Ford     + 1m14.6s
 8.  Sebastien Loeb      Citroen  + 1m40.3s
 9.  Jari Ketomaa        Ford     + 2m00.4s
10.  Martin Prokop       Ford     + 2m24.0s
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