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Sebastien Loeb will begin day two of ADAC Rallye Deutschland with a lead of 7.4s over Citroen team-mate Sebastien Ogier following an action-packed opening day of the first asphalt event of the World Rally Championship season.

Jari-Matti Latvala had got the rally off to a sensational start for the factory Ford team by winning the opening stage in his Fiesta RS WRC. However, he was one of several leading drivers to be caught out by running hard compound tyres on the rain-hit second stage where Loeb and Ogier were able to pull clear after selecting the optimal soft-compound version.

“It’s been a good day for me,” said Loeb, who is chasing his ninth victory on the Trier-based event. “I’ve been pushing very, very hard because Ogier has been pushing everywhere. It’s not easy to make a difference but I’m leading this evening and that’s the main thing. We have a big gap to the others, I am just fighting with Ogier so for the manufacturers’ championship it’s looking very good.”

Ogier, who momentarily led following the second stage of the event only to slip behind Loeb, said: “For sure I try to push to my limit, I have to progress on this surface. I am happy with my day because we’re going in the right direction. I know I am young and I can improve in the future.”

Citroen’s supremacy in Germany - Loeb has won three stages while Ogier has gone fastest twice - means the French make is almost 80 seconds clear of the chasing pack, which is headed by Ford’s Mikko Hirvonen.

The Finn is 1m18.4s behind Loeb following a frustrating day in his Fiesta. After dropping time on stage two, the Hirvonen’s efforts to recover lost ground suffered a setback when he damaged his car’s suspension striking a wall on stage four. However, repairs enabled him to reach the end of day service in Trier in the final podium spot.

Dani Sordo is an impressive fourth in his MINI John Cooper Works WRC, one place ahead of team-mate Kris Meeke, who was third fastest on stage four. Briton Meeke is 17.3s behind Sordo after six stages but could have been closer to the Spaniard had it not been for a spin on the final stage, which was caused by intermittent power loss.

Petter Solberg is sixth overnight in his privateer Citroen DS3 WRC after being delayed overshooting a junction and getting stuck on a bank on Friday morning. His older brother Henning Solberg is seventh in the first of the quartet of M-Sport Stobart Fiestas after overcoming earlier brake problems.

Kimi Raikkonen survived a scare on stage five when he went off the road and damaged the left side of his ICE 1 Racing DS3 to the extent his driver’s door kept flapping open on the stage. The ex-Formula One world champion is eighth overnight.

Dennis Kuipers is a solid ninth in his FERM Power Tools World Rally Team Fiesta with Armindo Araujo 10th, despite breaking a rear suspension arm on stage six in his Motorsport Italia MINI John Cooper Works WRC.

Peter van Merksteijn Jr is 11th on his return to the WRC after skipping the previous round in Finland. Matthew Wilson is 12th for the M-Sport Stobart squad with Super 2000 World Rally Championship leader Ott Tanak 13th and Latvala a distant 14th following a troubled afternoon.

After losing time with a puncture on stage three, the Finn’s hopes of a podium fight ended when his car dropped onto three cylinders on stage four. A second right-rear puncture on stage six merely compounded his agony, as efforts to rectify the problem have so far proved unsuccessful. “I don’t know what is happening,” said the dejected Latvala. “We’ve had all the problems today.”

Ken Block damaged the right-hand side of his Monster World Rally Team Fiesta after going off the road on a patch of gravel on stage four. Daniel Oliveira damaged the exhaust on his Brazil World Rally Team MINI but survived to complete day one in 25th, one place ahead of Mads Ostberg who dropped out of contention damaging his Fiesta’s suspension on stage three.

Pierre Campana is 22nd on the first of two starts in a MINI WRC. He is 0.4s ahead German Christian Riedemann, who is being assessed by Volkswagen Motorsport as a potential recruit when it enters the world championship in 2013.

Aaron Burkart began Friday’s final stage 11th overall in his M-Sport Stobart Fiesta only for a brake problem to force him to stop before the end of the run. He will restart on day two under SupeRally regulations.

www.wrc.com

Leading positions after SS6:  Pos  Driver           Team/Car           Time/Gap  1.  Sebastien Loeb   Citroen          1h18m21.4s  2.  Sebastien Ogier  Citroen              + 7.4s  3.  Mikko Hirvonen   Ford              + 1m18.4s  4.  Dani Sordo       Mini              + 1m40.3s  5.  Kris Meeke       Mini              + 1m57.6s  6.  Petter Solberg   Solberg Citroen   + 1m59.8s  7.  Henning Solberg  Stobart Ford      + 3m22.1s  8.  Kimi Raikkonen   Ice 1 Citroen     + 3m25.5s  9.  Dennis Kuipers   FERM Ford         + 3m31.7s 10.  Armindo Araujo   Italia Mini       + 4m22.4s


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