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Loeb starts with hat-trick.

Citroen team leader Sebastien Loeb has taken control in front of his home fans following the opening three stages this morning, which kicked off the 52nd Rallye de France-Tour de Corse.

Just like in Spain last weekend, Loeb was unstoppable in his C4 WRC car and he completed the opening stage, the 15.92 kilometre run through Acqua Doria-Serra di Ferro, 4 seconds up on Mikko Hirvonen, who was 'best of the rest'.

The Frenchman then increased his lead to 7.2 seconds in SS2 - when he again set the pace, 2.7 seconds up on Dani Sordo, before doubling it in SS3, to return to the mid-day halt with a 14.4 second cushion.

"I'm surprised by the lack of grip. I expected more and that was not the case. Despite that, everything is going fine for us," said Loeb.

It was not all good for Citroen however, as Dani Sordo was a surprise casualty in Arbellara-Aullene 1, when he hit a bank near the start of the 27.42 kilometre stage and retired. It is not yet known if the Spaniard will be able to rejoin on Saturday under the SupeRally.

Sordo's exit bumped Hirvonen back up into second spot, 2.2 seconds ahead of his BP Ford Abu Dhabi team-mate, Francois Duval.

"I'm feeling fine in the car, but Sebastien is pushing really hard. For the time being I cannot go any quicker," said Mikko post-SS2.

Petter Solberg is fourth for Subaru, albeit already 20 seconds off the two Fords and over 30 seconds off P1. The Norwegian jumped up from P7 to fourth in SS3, despite a 'big moment'.

"That wasn't so bad! SS3 was a long and quite fast stage but we had a massive moment at the start - it was unbelievable," Solberg confirmed. "The thing is that the surface changes all the time and it makes judging the grip very tricky. We're not being careful. We are pushing all the time."

Further down the order Jari-Matti Latvala is fifth in his Stobart Ford Focus, just 0.1 seconds off 'Hollywood' - and 2.2 seconds up on Chris Atkinson in the other Impreza WRC2008 nominated to score manufacturers' points for the SWRT.



Related Pictures

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Sebastien Loeb (FRA) Daniel Elena (MON), Citroen C4, Citroen Total World Rally Team
Sebastien Loeb (FRA) Daniel Elena (MON), Citroen C4, Citroen Total World Rally Team
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Podium - Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Podium - Volkswagen
Podium - Volkswagen
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Podium - Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Podium - Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
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