Sebastien Loeb leads in Spain as rivals Jari-Matti Latvala and Sebastien Ogier stumble

Sebastien Loeb leads the Rally of Spain at the end of day one after main rivals Sebastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala both hit trouble

Sebastien Loeb leads in Spain as rivals Jari-Matti Latvala and Sebastien Ogier stumble

Championship leader Loeb had benefited from dust hanging in the air on today's first loop, meaning that while he struggled for grip while running first on the road, his rivals were hampered even more severely by visibility issues.

After service, conditions were much improved - and on the first stage of the afternoon alone Loeb found himself falling to second, eight seconds behind new leader Latvala (Ford) and only 2s ahead of his Citroen team-mate Ogier.

But their challenges would soon encounter problems, as first Ogier lost over a minute and a half with a puncture on SS5, Terra Alta, then Latvala fell from the lead to 30s behind Loeb when he had various incidents on the after-dark Les Garrigues stage, where the dust issue returned.

"It is incredibly difficult to drive in the dark with the dust," said Latvala. "On the gravel we spun first and then there were massive rocks in the road. I couldn't avoid them, so I got a puncture."

Despite having struggled for pace on the slippery surface, Loeb therefore carries a half-minute lead into the asphalt segment of the mixed-surface event, with Mikko Hirvonen 54s off the lead in third in the second Ford having struggled in the dust all day.

Ogier reclaimed fourth from Mini's Dani Sordo on Les Garrigues as the Spaniard battled to see the road amid the dust. Kris Meeke had similar issues but completes the top six at present in the other works Mini, just ahead of Stobart Ford's Mads Ostberg and Henning Solberg.

Leading positions after SS6: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 1h44m06.3s 2. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 30.6s 3. Mikko Hirvonen Ford + 54.2s 4. Sebastien Ogier Citroen + 1m45.3s 5. Dani Sordo Mini + 2m02.7s 6. Kris Meeke Mini + 2m52.8s 7. Mads Ostberg Stobart Ford + 3m03.1s 8. Henning Solberg Stobart Ford + 3m11.6s 9. Evgeny Novikov CRT Citroen + 4m24.8s 10. Matthew Wilson Stobart Ford + 5m16.8s 
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Loeb stretches Rally Spain lead heading into asphalt stages

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