Rally GB: Loeb out front

Citroen's Sebastien Loeb has kicked off the action on the first leg of this weekend's Wales Rally GB topping the times on the first stage of the day, the Brechfa 1 forest run. Peugeot's Marcus Gronholm was second quickest ahead of Ford's Markko Martin

Rally GB: Loeb out front

Loeb has no reason to push it this weekend, enjoying as he does a 30-point lead in the championship. But someone obviously forgot to tell the Frenchman that for he blew away his rivals in the first test of the day beating his nearest challenger Gronholm by 5.7s.

Having moved from its traditional November slot on the calendar, gone is the fog, snow and ice. What replaces that should be drier and faster stages. Loeb admitted, though, that he was happy to get to the end of what was actually a very slippery first test.

"I'm happy to be at the end of the stage," he said, "because it was very difficult - like ice in places."

Loeb's stage victory has put him top of the overall standings with Gronholm 6.4s adrift while Martin is a further 5s off Gronholm's pace. The Estonian was believed to have had a big moment during the test, but later shrugged it off.

He'll need to for Subaru's Petter Solberg is breathing down his neck in fourth spot just 3s behind. The Norwegian admitted after the stage that he had played it safe. "Very, very difficult," he said. "I needed to be careful, perhaps too careful."

Citroen's Carlos Sainz was fifth, but a massive 31s off the pace already with Ford's Francois Duval, winner of the first stage of the rally - which took place Thursday evening - just half a second off Sainz in sixth place overall.

Peugeot's Harri Rovanpera is seventh while Subaru's Mikko Hirvonen rounds out the top eight.

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