Day 1: Team by team

There was a somewhat familiar feel to the first day of the 2005 World Rally Championship. Sebastien Loeb held a dominant lead on the Monte Carlo Rally, an event he has won for the last two years, and Citroen established a stranglehold on its rivals. But there was much to look out for with so many drivers switching teams this year and so many manufacturers rebolstering their efforts in this year's WRC.

Day 1: Team by team

Autosport's rally editor David Evans gives you a run down of the first day of term from inside the service park in Monte Carlo...


Near perfect day for the Xsara WRCs and Michelin. The only problem for Sebastien Loeb and Francois Duval was a spin 15km in to the Lantsoque-Col de Braus test. Both men were caught out by snow in a braking zone, which had been thrown on the road by over-enthusiastic spectators. Loeb felt his tyre choice might have been too soft for the second stage, but he wasn't over despondent - sitting on a 32.7-second overnight lead.


Caution was the watchword for both Toni Gardemeister and Roman Kresta as they began their careers as factory Ford drivers. Each enjoyed a trouble-free day, with the highlight for the Finn coming with third fastest on the third test. Kresta moved up a gear for the second run at Lantosque-Col de Braus, posting sixth quickest to move into the top ten.


Not the best of days for the boys in blue. Both cars suffered major brake problems - particularly on the third test, where the Impreza WRCs lost stopping power with 15km of the stage remaining. Petter Solberg's day ended better than it had started, when fourth fastest time moved him into fourth overnight. Stephane Sarrazin ended the leg ninth.


Marcus Gronholm spent the day getting to grips with Pirelli tyres, while his team-mate Markko Martin was getting used to Peugeot power and Pirelli tyres. Gronholm was fastest on the second stage and held an overnight podium spot, while Martin was three places further back, having dropped 10 seconds with a stall on SS3.


As you would expect, it was Mitsubishi's asphalt ace Gilles Panizzi who led the charge of the Lancers. This was despite a gearbox problem which left the Frenchman without the use of the steering column-mounted paddle shift. Harri Rovanpera reported overheating brakes on SS1, but otherwise it was a drama-free day for the Finn.


The Czech Republic team suffered a troubled day from the off, with Armin Schwarz's throttle sticking open on stages one and two. To add insult to injury, he also had problems with the car's differentials. New boy Alex Bengue was struggling to find the right set-up for his Fabia WRC and was also hit by gremlins in the car's launch control.

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Day 1: Loeb in charge

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