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Loeb kicks off WRC's new era

Sebastien Loeb, Citroen, Sweden 2011Reigning World Rally champion Sebastien Loeb has become the first driver to set a meaningful time in the new generation of World Rally Cars at this morning's Rally Sweden shakedown stage.

The Citroen-driving Frenchman was the first into the 2.5-mile shakedown stage close to Hagfors. No running order is established for shakedown, but Loeb was the first to the startline of the new season. The seven-time champion completed the stage in 2m17.1s, after a 14-minute delay at the start of the test.

Second in was Loeb's team-mate Sebastien Ogier, who was 1.5 seconds slower than Loeb. Jari-Matti Latvala was the first Ford driver to offer a comparison between the two makes - and it was first blood to the Fiesta, with the Finn stopping the clocks at 2m10.4s.

The drivers started the stage in heavy snow, which is expected to continue through the day, before giving way to cold and clear conditions for the rest of the event.

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