Citroen driver Sebastien Ogier leads after the opening day of the Rally of Turkey, having claimed the lead from the third stage of the day.

Ogier reported no problems with his Citroen Junior Team C4 WRC, helped by an advantageous road position of fifth. Tomorrow, however, he has the dubious honour of running first and sweeping the road clean for his rivals.

“Today has been really good: I can’t complain about anything,” he concluded. “As for tomorrow, it will be a big challenge but I like it: if you are first on the road it is because you are first in the rally.”

Leading the field away today was six-time World Champion and Jordan Rally winner Sebastien Loeb, who said that conditions were even more difficult in the afternoon than they were in the morning.

After the first four stages Loeb was fifth, less than eight seconds behind the leader. But in the afternoon, while he remained fifth, the gap had grown to just over 25 seconds. “In some places I had no grip at all,” said Loeb. “I actually think that the road was cleaning more in the afternoon. I just hope that I’ve not lost too much time now. It’s going to be tough for me.”

Instead, it was Dani Sordo who led the factory Citroen charge, ending day one less than three seconds behind Ogier. Ford’s Mikko Hirvonen finished the day third but remains very much in the hunt, less than 10 seconds behind Ogier. Apart from a mistake on the opening stage, Hirvonen had no problems throughout the day. The Finn is hoping to move up the leaderboard tomorrow, on gravel stages that unusually include large sections of asphalt.

One of the stars of the day was Citroen privateer Petter Solberg, who led after the opening test and set three fastest stage times. Having finished on the podium in the last two events, the Norwegian is looking forward to continuing his run of success in Turkey.

“It’s been a very good day,” concluded Solberg. “Some of the stages have been slower than others, but when everything works we are at the top. But tomorrow is so hard that you need to be a little bit careful. I think the whole rally will be like that.”

Stobart Ford driver Matthew Wilson was relieved to make it safely to the finish after bending his steering on SS6. The Englishman ended up ninth: just behind Kimi Raikkonen.

Among the casualties of the opening day were Ford drivers Ken Block and Henning Solberg, both of whom hit the same tree stump on the opening stage. “I can’t believe I did that,” said Block. “The stump was completely hidden. I could understand if I had been going quickly, but as it was I was just trying to take it easy.”

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