Loeb Tops Day 1 in Rally GB, Hirvonen Right Behind Him

Sebastien Loeb will enter the second day of competition in Rally GB still on top of the timing sheets, but his lead has now been cut to only 5.3 seconds after the last 3 special stages of the day. The Frenchman began the day on a high note and put almost 9 seconds between him and his Finnish rival by the Service Park after SS3, but the Ford driver slowly recovered in the classification and ended the day as winner of SS6.

Hirvonen's lack of worry because of Loeb's great pace in the early stages of the rally seems to have been justified, as the Ford rival returned from the Service Park eager to show the reigning champion that he has to give him more than that to secure a 6th consecutive crown in the WRC. Hirvonen took almost 5 seconds from Loeb during SS4 and, after a brief answer from the Frenchman in SS4, returned to winning ways in the last stage of the day.

I've tried to fight back. I didn't have any clue how the stage was going, but it's very slippy, so small moments all the time. I think it should be really good for tomorrow now,” said Hirvonen at the end of SS6, during which he took one more second from Loeb in the overall time standings.

I thought I was much slower in the stage, and I didn't understand it. It was like the first stage in the loop, I had understeer and was sliding around in the middle. It's really difficult, but really exciting. I'm quite happy and we're in front at the moment,” added Loeb.

The two are practically the only drivers in contention for a rally win in the UK, as 3rd placed Petter Solberg is 40 seconds behind after the Friday action. The Finn eventually finished the day ahead of Citroen's Dani Sordo, but the battle between these to promises to be just as exciting as the one on top of the pack.

Only 1.1 seconds separate Solberg and Sordo for 3rd place, with Citroen Junior's Sebastien Ogier more than 2 minutes behind in 5th place. Henning Solberg finished Day 1 approximately 9 seconds behind the Frenchman, in 6th place, while Mathew Wilson's and Conrad Rautenbach's 7th and 8th places respectively seem out of reach at the moment.
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