Sebastien Loeb holds a comfortable lead at the end of day one of the Monte Carlo Rally after rival Jari-Matti Latvala crashed out of first place.
Latvala had been 30 seconds in front of five-time Monte winner Loeb going into today's final stage, but rolled his Ford and was forced to retire. The car is believed to be only lightly damaged, but after the Automobile Club de Monaco elected not to run the superally regulation, the Ford team leader's rally is run as he cannot get back on the road.
"I don't think there was anything wrong with the car, they have just gone off for some reason," said Ford technical director Christian Loriaux. "I believe they were just at the beginning of the section of ice on stage four. They would have had diagonal studded tires on, the same as this morning. It's an accident – this is Monte Carlo and these things happen. It's a shame, Jari was driving well.
All of Loeb's remaining competitors had tough ends to their days, with Ford's Petter Solberg ruing his use of two snow tires on what was now a mostly dry SS4 and Loeb's Citroen teammate Mikko Hirvonen damaging a brake in a minor impact with a wall.
Their delays allowed Dani Sordo to move back into second for Mini despite damaging his suspension in an error this morning, although the Spaniard is 1m04s behind Loeb and just 1sec ahead of Solberg.
Sebastien Ogier therefore holds an astonishing fourth-place overall in his S2000 Skoda, thanks to some very rapid stage times as well as the WRC field's issues. The ex-Citroen WRC driver is just ahead of Evgeny Novikov's M-Sport Ford and the delayed Hirvonen, with Francois Delecour holding a highly respectable seventh on his WRC return with another WRC Ford. Thierry Neuville retired from his Citroen debut on the day's final stage.
P-G Andersson's Proton holds 10th overall and leads the S2000 class, albeit as one of only two cars still running in the poorly supported division.
Leading positions after SS4:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 1h30m30.1s
2. Dani Sordo Mini + 1m04.2s
3. Petter Solberg Ford + 1m05.2s
4. Sebastien Ogier VW Skoda + 2m21.1s
5. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford + 2m26.5s
6. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen + 2m30.0s
7. Francois Delecour M-Sport Ford + 2m49.9s
8. Pierre Campana Mini + 4m09.7s
9. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford + 4m14.0s
10. P-G Andersson Proton + 4m33.8s