Solberg wins opening superspecial

Petter Solberg has made a dream start to the Rally Norway, his first event with his own team, by winning the opening stage and leading his home round of the World Rally Championship in his private Citroen Xsara WRC

Solberg wins opening superspecial

In front of 20,000 of his cheering countryman at the Oslo superspecial, Solberg posted a time six tenths of a second faster than his nearest rival, Ford's Mikko Hirvonen.

This is the first time Solberg has led a rally since Jordan last year, where he set a joint fastest time in stage one, and is the first time in two years that he has led a rally on his own.

Solberg missed the opening round of the WRC in Ireland earlier this month after Subaru withdrew from the WRC, forcing him to establish his own team to run a 2006-specification Citroen.

Stepping from the Xsara, the delighted Solberg acknowledged the fans and said: "We're back in business! It's just like the old days. Now we'll see what we can do tomorrow."

The only drivers to suffer any problems on the opening stage were Citroen's Dani Sordo, who stalled on the start line, and former Suzuki factory driver P-G Andersson, who stalled his Skoda Fabia WRC in a hairpin. They lie sixth and 30th respectively.

Behind Solberg and Hirvonen, Sebastien Loeb (Citroen), Mads Ostberg (Adapta Subaru) and Jari-Matti Latvala (Ford) complete the initial top five.

Patrik Sandell made the perfect start to his career as a Red Bull Suzuki driver, posting the fastest Production class time in his Fabia S2000.

The main action gets underway from Hamar, north of Oslo, at 9am local time tomorrow.

Leading positions after SS1:

Pos  Driver              Car      Time
 1.  Petter Solberg      Citroen  1:32.8
 2.  Mikko Hirvonen      Ford      + 0.6
 3.  Sebastien Loeb      Citroen   + 0.7
 4.  Mads Ostberg        Subaru    + 1.2
 5.  Jari-Matti Latvala  Ford      + 2.3
 6.  Dani Sordo          Citroen   + 3.0
 7.  Urmo Aava           Ford      + 3.4
 8.  Henning Solberg     Ford      + 4.2
 9.  Matthew Wilson      Ford      + 4.7
10.  Anders Grondal      Subaru    + 5.3

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