Citroen number one driver, Sebastien Loeb has made the perfect start to Rallye Deutschland by winning all three tests this morning.
Loeb, who was third quickest in the shakedown on Thursday, began the day by completing the first test, the 24.01 km Ruwertal / Fell 1 stage, in 13 minutes 54.2 seconds, 5.4 seconds up on his team-mate and closest rival, Dani Sordo. The Frenchman then pushed on in SS2 and SS3, increasing his advantage by 1.3 seconds in Grafschaft Veldenz and by 1.5 seconds in Moselland.
Seb thus returned to service having established an 8.2 second lead, already seemingly on course to win again in Germany, as he has done every time, stretching back to 2002, when he took his debut WRC victory.
"It is going very well - a good start with three best times in the first three stages. The feeling with the car was good," Loeb said. "On the first stage just before the finish I hit something with the left rear section, so the car was unstable on stage three. But nevertheless I am satisfied."
Dani Sordo meanwhile has also made a pretty impressive start, especially as this is his first event with new co-driver, Diego Vallejo. The Spaniard was second quickest in all three tests, but was unable to match Loeb: "I am very satisfied as I finished right behind Seb," Sordo said after the opening test.
BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT number two and Crash.net
columnist, Jari-Matti Latvala completes the top three at this early stage, 28.8 seconds off Sordo, and 3.6 seconds up on his compatriot and team-mate, Mikko Hirvonen. The Rally Finland winner slipped down to fourth in SS2, before re-gaining third in SS3, when Hirvonen spun and stalled his Focus.
"Soft tyres were the right option for this morning, although the temperatures are climbing now and harder rubber might be the better choice this afternoon," Latvala said. "I'm faster here than I was in the last asphalt round in Bulgaria so we've made progress since then. I need to cut out the small mistakes. I've not made any major errors but the small ones have cost some time."
"There's a lot of dirt on the road and it's difficult to get my confidence with the changing grip," Hirvonen added. "I'm losing some seconds because of that but perhaps I have also been a little over-cautious. I stalled the engine at a junction in the last stage but I'm happy with the car and I'm not planning any changes for the afternoon."
Sebastien Ogier, back with the Citroen Junior Team for this event, lies fifth, around 10 seconds off the two Ford's in front. He was fifth in SS1 and sixth in SS2 and SS3. A solid start considering this is his first run in Germany in a World Rally Car, and considering he stalled his C4 WRC a couple of times.