Sebastien Loeb leads a Citroen one-two in the Rally Finland after topping the Killeri superspecial that opened the event this evening. His teammate Dani Sordo holds second, one tenth of a second behind.
"It's only a stage for fun at the start, and now the game will start tomorrow," said Loeb, "but for now everything is OK."
Sordo agreed that the result was a pleasing, if ultimately irrelevant, early boost.
"At the moment we've started the rally very well," said the Spaniard. "We'll see tomorrow in the real stages."
Championship leader Mikko Hirvonen was third for Ford, ahead of Citroen Junior duo Evgeny Novikov and Sebastien Ogier, who set equal times.
On his return to a superspecial after the now infamous final stage accident on the Rally Poland, Jari-Matti Latvala (Ford) was relieved to complete the stage in seventh behind Petter Solberg (Solberg Citroen).
"You can imagine that I had quite a lot of pressure after the mistake last time in Poland," said Latvala. "Here there were no mistakes and quite a good time, so I'm satisfied."
Behind Stobart Ford's Henning Solberg, Subaru privateer Jari Ketomaa and returnee Matti Rantanen – who is having a one-off outing with Munchi's Ford – complete the initial top 10.
2007 Formula 1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen made a promising start to his World Rally Championship debut with the 20th-fastest time, just one tenth of a second behind fellow S2000 Abarth driver Anton Alen.TIMES:
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 1m20.3s
2. Dani Sordo Citroen + 0.1s
3. Mikko Hirvonen Ford + 0.9s
4. Evgeny Novikov Citroen + 1.2s
5. Sebastien Ogier Citroen + 1.2s
6. Petter Solberg Citroen + 1.4s
7. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 1.5s
8. Henning Solberg Ford + 1.5s
9. Jari Ketomaa Subaru + 1.7s
10. Matti Rantanen Ford + 1.9s