Citroen number one driver Sebastien Loeb will lead into the first day proper of Wales Rally GB after topping the times through the Cardiff Bay Super Special stage tonight.

Loeb was 0.7 seconds quicker than team-mate Sebastien Ogier on the run through the 1.70 kilometre stage, which was held in ferocious weather conditions. Indeed gale force winds and heavy rain blasted Cardiff for much of the day, and viewing areas alongside the narrow strip of asphalt were evacuated for safety reasons as gusts reached 100kph.

Dani Sordo meanwhile was next up, 0.4 seconds up on Petter Solberg, to give Citroen a clean sweep of the top four places. Jari-Matti Latvala led the Ford charge ahead of F1 2007 world champion, Kimi Raikkonen and Mikko Hirvonen. Britain's Matthew Wilson completed the top eight.

"I chose to drive really carefully," said Latvala. "It's important to respect the conditions and not attack too much when they are as bad as this. Tomorrow I hope to find a good feeling, that's the way to earn a good result in this rally."

"It was dry when I left the start, but by the time I tackled the stage, the road was full wet," Hirvonen added.

The event now gets underway proper tomorrow [Friday], with SS2, Hafren 1, starting at 09.38 hours [local time].

Wales Rally GB: Overall standings after Stage 1 (Top 10):

1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT C4 WRC 1min 16.1secs M
2. Sebastien Ogier Citroen Total WRT C4 WRC +00mins 00.7secs M
3. Dani Sordo Citroen Junior Team C4 WRC +00mins 01.2secs M
4. Petter Solberg PSWRT Citroen C4 WRC +00mins 01.6secs A8
5. Jari-Matti Latvala BP Ford Abu Dhabi Focus RS WRC +00mins 01.8secs M
6. Kimi Raikkonen Citroen Junior Team C4 WRC +00mins 03.3secs M
7. Mikko Hirvonen BP Ford Abu Dhabi Focus RS WRC +00mins 03.4secs M
8. Matthew Wilson Stobart M-Sport Ford Focus WRC +00mins 04.0secs M
9. Ken Block Monster WRT Ford Focus WRC +00mins 04.3secs A8
10. Andreas Mikkelsen Skoda Fabia S2000 +00mins 05.5secs S

Other:

11. Mads Ostberg Subaru Impreza WRC +00mins 05.7secs A8
= Henning Solberg Stobart M-Sport Ford Focus RS WRC +00mins 05.7secs M

SWRC Standings after Stage 1 (Top 3):

1. Andreas Mikkelsen Skoda Fabia S2000 1min 21.6secs S
2. Jari Ketomaa Ford Fiesta S2000 +00mins 01.3secs S
3. Michal Kosciuszko Skoda Fabia S2000 +00mins 02.7secs S

PWRC Standings after Stage 1 (Top 3):

1. Patrik Flodin Subaru Impreza STi 1min 25.8secs P
2. Ott Tanak Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +00mins 00.1secs P
3. Anders Grondal Subaru Impreza STi +00mins 00.2secs P

all times unofficial