Find out more about our subscriptions

Sebastien Loeb takes early Rally Germany lead

Sebastien Loeb, Citroen, Germany 2011Sebastien Loeb holds his habitual lead in Rally Germany, but it took the eight-time event winner three stages to reach the front.

Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala was quickest on the dry first stage, but both the Finn and his team-mate Mikko Hirvonen lost a lot of time when rain hit on SS2. They had gone with hard tyres, while the Citroens used softs - which proved much better suited to the increasingly damp roads.

"I knew it if was raining I'd lose the rally if I was on hard tyres, and I didn't want to take that risk," said Loeb, after the Citroens gained half a minute on the Fords on the stage.

Loeb's team-mate Sebastien Ogier took the lead at the end of the stage, but it was the world champion who gained the advantage by the end of the third test, with a fastest time on Moselland putting him 4.4 seconds clear of his compatriot as they head for service.

Hirvonen is their nearest rival but is now 35.2s adrift in third. Latvala fell back to seventh place when he picked up a puncture on Moselland.

Mini has made a superb start to the rally, with Dani Sordo and Kris Meeke holding fourth and fifth at present, ahead of Petter Solberg's Citroen.

Mads Ostberg ran eighth until his Stobart Ford sustained suspension damage on SS3. His team-mate Henning Solberg is now in that position, despite brake issues, and is just ahead of Kimi Raikkonen (Ice 1 Citroen), Dennis Kuipers (FERM Ford) and Armindo Araujo (Italia Mini).

Leading positions after SS3:

Pos  Driver              Team/Car          Time/Gap
 1.  Sebastien Loeb      Citroen           39m34.2s
 2.  Sebastien Ogier     Citroen             + 4.4s
 3.  Mikko Hirvonen      Ford               + 35.2s
 4.  Dani Sordo          Mini               + 55.6s
 5.  Kris Meeke          Mini             + 1m10.5s
 6.  Petter Solberg      Solberg Citroen  + 1m16.8s
 7.  Jari-Matti Latvala  Ford             + 2m00.8s
 8.  Henning Solberg     Stobart Ford     + 2m03.4s
 9.  Kimi Raikkonen      Ice 1 Citroen    + 2m07.1s
10.  Dennis Kuipers      FERM Ford        + 2m11.6s
  More news  
Read the AUTOSPORT Digital Edition
Visit the shop
See highlights from 60 years of AUTOSPORT
Breaking news feed
Live commentary feed
Ogier ends Loeb's German win streak
Ogier on brink of Germany win
Latvala hopes to rejoin for final leg
Richards thrilled with Mini's pace
Tensions rise between Citroen duo
Ogier takes lead after Loeb punctures
Loeb still leads Ogier in Germany
Meeke thrilled with Mini in Germany
Ford urges drivers to keep pushing
Loeb ahead as Citroen dominates
Latvala suffers delays in Germany
Citroen's tyre tactics stun rivals
Citroen plays down shakedown form