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WRC NEWS 

Ogier leads after superspecials

Sebastien Ogier, Citroen, Rally JapanSebastien Ogier took an early lead in Rally Japan by winning both runs through the Sapporo superspecial on the opening evening.

Back in the works Citroen team this weekend as his drive-swapping with Dani Sordo continues, Ogier has a two-second advantage over Ford's Mikko Hirvonen.

Sordo, driving for Citroen Junior in Japan before rejoining the works squad for the subsequent asphalt rallies, is third, followed by Jari-Matti Latvala (Ford), Kimi Raikkonen (Citroen Junior) and Sebastien Loeb (Citroen). Just 0.4s covers second to sixth places following the short opening stage. Raikkonen was an encouraging second quickest on the second run.

A feverish Petter Solberg is 5.7s off the lead in ninth and struggling with illness.

"I've been in bed the whole afternoon sweating and I'm not in very good form," he admitted. "But that's how it is. This is part of the game and I hope I'll be better for tomorrow. But today has been a very bad day."

While the majority of the rally route is on gravel, the Sapporo stadium is an asphalt stage - but it is used no fewer than eight times during the course of the event.

Pos  Driver              Car      Time/Gap
 1.  Sebastien Ogier     Citroen   2m43.2s
 2.  Mikko Hirvonen      Ford       + 2.0s
 3.  Dani Sordo          Citroen    + 2.1s
 4.  Jari-Matti Latvala  Ford       + 2.3s
 =   Kimi Raikkonen      Citroen    + 2.3s
 6.  Sebastien Loeb      Citroen    + 2.4s
 7.  Federico Villagra   Ford       + 4.6s
 8.  Henning Solberg     Ford       + 5.7s
 =   Petter Solberg      Citroen    + 5.7s
10.  Matthew Wilson      Ford       + 6.6s
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