Having come from behind to win the Portuguese round of the World Rally Championship, Sebastien Loeb showed his intention to run from the front in Argentina after claiming the opening, superspecial, stage at the Estadio Cordoba.

The defending world champion, and reigning Argentina event winner, completed the 2.4km arena test one full second quicker than nearest rival Mikko Hirvonen on what appeared to be a slick surface.

Hirvonen admitted to a mistake that he suggested had created the seemingly big gap between the top two, while Loeb's Citroen Total team-mate Dani Sordo was just a tenth adrift of the Ford man in third. Petter Solberg saw off brother Henning in the process of setting the fourth-fastest time, but was 1.9secs adrift of Loeb's benchmark. Solberg Sr took fifth, ahead of Latvala, Ogier, Al-Attiyah, Wilson and Martinez.

The opening stage was witnessed by thousands of fans, who packed the stands around the head-to-head course and hinted at the crowds that traditionally line the route of the stages, which get underway at 0745 on Friday. The second stage of the event, and the first on the tracks of the Cordoba region, is the initial run over the 14.94km La Cumbre-Agua De Oro test.

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