Sebastien Loeb admits that the gap between himself and the lead of Rally Argentina is 'bigger than he would have liked' after the defending WRC title winner made two mistakes on the final test of day one.

Loeb was one of five drivers to be embroiled in a frantic battle for the lead during the eight stages which made up Friday's running and remained firmly in contention for the top spot despite his position at the head of the field as road-sweeper.

However, as Citroen team-mate Dani Sordo and Ford's Mikko Hirvonen went into the final stage of the day level-pegging, Loeb tried too hard to make up the few seconds that would have given him the overnight lead and instead stalled twice during the stage - losing valuable time in the process.

With the prospect of wet conditions on Saturday, running first on the road wouldn't have been as much of a disadvantage to the champion but he said he was ready to do battle on day two in his quest to take a fifth successive victory.

"We heard there could be some rain and it might be better to be first on the road, so I decided to try and get first place on the last stage," he told the official WRC website. "Instead we stalled the engine twice in two hairpins and now we are third. That's just how it is and we'll have to see how we get on.

"I pushed hard all day and ended up losing valuable ground in two hairpins. A deficit of 16 seconds isn't insurmountable, but it's a bigger gap than I would have liked..."