Day 1: Citroen out front

Sebastien Loeb didn't win all of this afternoon's stages, but solid and consistent front-running ensured the Citroen man remains out ahead after the first day in Spain. Loeb made sure there were no errors yet still managed to edge further in front of Carlos Sainz.

Day 1: Citroen out front

Loeb won Sant Julia 1, the first stage after lunch, as well as the day's last stage at La Pobla de Lillet. In between, stage wins went to Markko Martin (on the short SS5) and Gilles Panizzi (SS6 and SS7), but Loeb always held sway over his leaderboard rivals.

Martin showed solid pace all afternoon, so his Ford crew had clearly done a good job in bolstering his neck support. He goes to bed in a handy third place, in a close battle with Sainz in front and Gilles Panizzi behind.

Panizzi suddenly looked like his old self this afternoon, showing rally-winning speed after lunch. After poor tyre choice in the morning he still has work to do, but has done well so far to make up four places by the end of the afternoon.

Fifth-placed François Duval's day tells the same story as Panizzi's, except for a minor brush with a wall. But Richard Burns was the afternoon's big loser. Despite looking far more comfortable than on the last two events, Burns shunted the car on SS7 when he lay fourth overall. He lost around 40 seconds as he limped to the finish. Fortunately the damage wasn't major, and he goes into the overnight halt sixth, but 74 seconds off the lead.



Two names that didn't manage to fight back quite so well from earlier problems were Marcus Gronholm and Petter Solberg. Although both drivers were near the front on stage times, they couldn't deliver the crushing stage wins needed to climb back up the order. The two shadowed each other on the overall leaderboard and ended up in tenth and eleventh respectively, around two minutes back from the leaders.

Rain may arrive tomorrow, according to certain weather forecasters. As long as changeable weather is a possibility, it would be unwise to write off either Solberg or Grönholm. But for tonight, Citroen will be the most content outfit.


Sebastein Loeb (Citroen) 1h31m38.7s
Carlos Sainz (Citroen) +26.2s
Markko Martin (Ford) +31.2s
Gilles Panizzi (Peugeot) +33.5s
François Duval (Ford) +55.0s
Richard Burns (Peugeot) +1m14.0s

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Day 1am: Loeb's fast start

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