Citroen number two driver, Dani Sordo has taken control on the Rally de Espana following the opening loop this morning, even though overnight rain made conditions tricky for all 70 starting crews.
Sordo was 1 second up on Mikko Hirvonen
in the first test, the 20.48 kilometre-run through La Mussara, before going quickest again in SS2 and SS3 - 1.8 seconds quicker than his team-mate, Sebastien Loeb
in Querol and again better than Seb in El Montmell.
Sordo thus returned to the mid-day halt with a 4.8 second cushion and he was understandably happy with his performance on home soil: "It was pretty difficult morning for everyone because the first stage was still damp in places,” Sordo reflected. “I am pleased with my pacenotes though and with the performance of my C4 WRC.
“We've found a good pace, but we didn't push too hard. I think the going will be easier, and more consistent, this afternoon."
Loeb meanwhile was third in the opening test, but 'passed' Hirvonen in SS2 and finished the loop 14.3 seconds up on his arch rival: "There is no way I'm going to settle for finishing behind Mikko!” Loeb stated.
“Dani has got off to a great start and we have succeeded in tucking in just behind him, with Hirvonen a little further back. This morning's run proved quite tricky because we had to cope with damp conditions on hard tyres. I didn't feel 100 per cent confident in my car."
Hirvonen, for his part, wasn't too disappointed to end the loop 'best of the rest' after the two works Citroens, especially as Loeb and Sordo are very much the favourites this weekend in Catalunya.
"This is a better start than last year and I was especially pleased with my time on the first stage,” Hirvonen stated. “I thought it would be dry but a lot of the test was damp so it was tricky. Fortunately it was dry at the start so I managed to get some heat into the tyres before the wet parts. On the last stage I had good grip but the car understeered in the corners so we'll have a look in service and see what we can do.”
Further down the order, Petter Solberg
lies fourth on his first outing with a C4, 18.8 seconds off Hirvonen and 21.3 seconds up on Citroen
Junior Team driver, Sebastien Ogier.