In front of a huge crowd of enthusiastic rally fans the cars started in reverse order with two cars racing side-by-side on the specially created circuit in the centre of the stadium; which is more used to staging football matches than motorsport events.  Solberg advanced into battle with Citroen driver Dani Sordo and in a scintillating race over the 2.21km course the Norwegian and co-driver Cato Menkerud edged out the Spaniard by 0.1 seconds. It is the first time that Solberg has led a WRC event.
Stobart team mates Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin lined up in the stadium with Petter Solberg but were beaten by the resurgent former World Champion, finishing the winding tarmac course 1.8 seconds behind. The Briton lies in 11th place.  Tomorrow the rally moves into the hills north of the Service Park where the drivers will tackle 136.21km of competitive distance over two identical loops of three stages.
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford driver Henning Solberg said:
“Wow, that was an amazing start to the event.  This was fantastic tonight and it’s now the first time that I have ever led a rally.  The stage was really good fun and there were so many people shouting and cheering when I beat Dani, I think it was the closest race they had seen all night.  The car felt brilliant during the shakedown today and I hope we can keep the speed up tomorrow on the proper stages but I’m just so happy to have been quickest tonight and beaten the real tarmac drivers.”
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford driver Matthew Wilson said:
“The Super Special was a fun way to start off the rally, we had a good clean run and everything felt fine.  It was great to see so many people pack the stadium and watch us kick off the rally, the fans here in Portugal really love their motorsport and its good that we can come here and put a show on for them.  I’m looking forward to getting started tomorrow.”
Leaderboard after SS1
1. H Solberg/C Menkerud (NOR)              Ford Focus RS                       2m09.6s
2. D Sordo/M Marti (ESP)                        Citroën                             +0.1s
3. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen (FIN)                 Ford Focus                        +0.2s
4. S Loeb/D Elena (FRA)                         Citroën C4                         +1.3s
5. J-M Latvala/M Antilla (FIN)                  Ford Focus RS                   +2.9s
6. M Gronholm /T Rautiainan (FIN)            Subaru Impreza                 +4.5s
7. F Villagra/J Perez Companc (ARG)         Ford Focus RS                   +5.6s
8. P Solberg/P Mills (NOR)                       Citroën Xsara                    +5.9s
9. Mads Ostberg/O Unnerud (NOR)            Subaru Impreza                +7.0s                   
10. S Ogier/J Ingrassia (FRA)                   Citroën                             +7.3s
11. M Wilson/S Martin (GB)                       Ford Focus RS                      +7.7s
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