Seven-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb says catching Petter Solberg will be almost impossible after the Norwegian's exceptional day on the opening leg of the Acropolis Rally.
Solberg leads the event by 51.6sec from his fellow Citroen DS3 WRC driver Loeb. While there are still 12 stages – including one at night – and almost 130 competitive miles left to run, Loeb says a win in Greece is very unlikely.
"Petter has had a great day," said Loeb. "Really, I think it is nearly impossible for me to catch him. Yes, he is first on the road tomorrow, but I don't think the surface will clean as much as it did today. We have no big chance for the victory here."
Loeb admitted he had struggled through the opening day, when his championship position meant he was running first on the road.
"My road position made it a big challenge," he said. "We had to clean the road every time. I am happy with my position now, I drove well and apart from a small puncture [on SS5] the day was OK. My priority for tomorrow is to keep the other cars behind me, this is what I will focus on."
Solberg remained circumspect about his chances of victory.
"There is still a hell of a long way to go on this rally," he said. "Nothing is done yet. I am happy, this is a good lead, but also, don't forget, this is Greece. Really, anything can happen."
Asked if he expected to be allowed to beat the factory Citroens, Solberg said: "Just remember, I am a private driver, not the factory driver – don't talk Santa Claus to me!
"Things are different now. I am very happy with where I am right now –we have had a really good day. We could have had a bigger lead if it wasn't for a puncture in SS3 and then catching [Jari-Matti] Latvala's dust on the last one. But the fight starts again tomorrow."
Solberg has not won a round of the WRC since 2005.