Sebastien Loeb has taken his habitual lead on the first morning of Rally Deutschland, ahead of his Citroen teammate Dani Sordo.
The World Rally Champion has never been beaten in this event, winning it seven times, and has led from the outset today. Loeb had a scare on stage two, when he was concerned he might have damaged a wheel by clipping a barrier, but was able to continue without problems.
Sordo is back in the factory Citroen team for this event – and the other asphalt rounds – after being moved across to Citroen Junior to make way for Sebastien Ogier in Finland. The Spaniard has kept Loeb within sight, and is eight seconds down after three stages.
Although the Fords are already over half a minute behind the Citroens, Jari-Matti Latvala and Mikko Hirvonen are in better shape than in Bulgaria, as they hold third and fourth places. They benefited from Petter Solberg (Solberg Citroen) losing nearly three minutes on the opening stage with a puncture, while Ogier is back in fifth having been delayed by a problem with his car's anti-stall system on SS3.
On his return to the championship, Francois Duval was running sixth for Stobart Ford initially, before a suspected transmission issue left his Focus with only two-wheel drive on the Moselland stage and dropped him behind his teammate Matthew Wilson and Citroen Junior's Kimi Raikkonen.
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 39m30.5s
2. Dani Sordo Citroen + 8.2s
3. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 37.0s
4. Mikko Hirvonen Ford + 40.6s
5. Sebastien Ogier Citroen + 50.1s
6. Matthew Wilson Ford + 1m40.5s
7. Kimi Raikkonen Citroen + 2m01.0s
8. Francois Duval Ford + 2m18.5s
9. Petter Solberg Citroen + 2m46.7s
10. Ken Block Ford + 3m04.1s