MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi improved his pace, and overall ranking, during stages five and six on the opening day of Wales Rally GB.

The weather in the Welsh forests was so bad that the Hafren stage, due to be run twice on Friday - as stage one and then stage four - was cancelled on both occasions due to the amount of ice present.

The rally thus began on stage two, when Rossi was just 45th fastest, before steering his Stobart-run Ford Focus WRC car up to 34th on stage three, during treacherous conditions described by the Italian as the worst he had ever driven a rally car in (see previous story).

Despite several 'moments', the eight time world champion upped his pace during stages five and six, when he set the 24th and 15th fastest stage times.

"It is still a bit tricky in there. There is a lot of water and mud. We lost the rear bumper too," said Rossi after stage five.

The #46 was particularly happy with his 15th place on stage six, the second run of the day through the 18.28km Myherin test, which he completed 21.6sec faster than he had this morning.

"We've improved our time through there a lot from this morning, so I'm really pleased," said Rossi.

Rossi now holds 26th position overall, 3min 4.6sec behind rally leader Jari-Matti Latvala, with only two runs through the short Walters Arena stage left before the conclusion of day one.

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