Citroen ace Sebastien Loeb has taken the early lead on Rally Argentina following the short opening super special this afternoon, which kicked off the sixth round in the 2011 World Rally Championship.
Loeb, who went up against Mikko Hirvonen in the 3.02 kilometre-run through Super Especial Carlos Paz 1, completed the test in 2 minute 25.9 seconds, 1.7 seconds up on his Ford rival.
That put him quickest overall, 0.9 seconds up on fellow Citroen DS3 runner Petter Solberg, while Sebastien Ogier is third overall, ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala and Hirvonen.
“It's only the start, there's a long way to go over three days and one second is nothing,” Loeb told the official WRC website. “But I'm happy for the start and we will see tomorrow what we can do [running first on the road]. The stage was very nice for a super stage.”
Federico Villagra meanwhile was sixth, albeit 5.5 seconds off Hirvonen, followed by M-Sport Stobart duo, Matt Wilson and Mads Ostberg. Ken Block, who is returning to the fold following his big crash in the shakedown for March's Rally de Portugal, was ninth, ahead of PWRC front runner, Yuriy Protasov in tenth.
The action now gets underway 'proper' on Friday, with around 156 competitive kilometres on the bill – and two loops of three stages.
SS2, the 18.23 km-run through El Mirador / San Lorenzo 1, begins at 09.36 hours local time [13.36 hours UK time].
Rally Argentina: Overall standings after Stage 1 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Loeb
Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 2mins 25.9secs
2. Petter Solberg
PSWRT Citroen DS3 WRC +00mins 00.9secs
3. Sebastien Ogier
Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +00mins 01.0secs
4. Jari-Matti Latvala
Ford Abu Dhabi WRT Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 01.5secs
5. Mikko Hirvonen
Ford Abu Dhabi WRT Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 01.7secs
6. Federico Villagra
Munchis Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 07.2secs
7. Matthew Wilson
M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 07.4secs
8. Mads Ostberg
M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 08.4secs
9. Ken Block
Monster WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 09.2secs
10. Yuriy Protasov
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +00mins 09.8secs
11. Patrik Flodin
Subaru Impreza STi +00mins 10.3secs
12. Peter van Merksteijn Jr
Van Merksteijn Citroen DS3 WRC +00mins 10.6secs
13. Benito Guerra Jr
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +00mins 13.0secs
14. Daniel Oliveira
Brazil WRT Mini John Cooper Works +00mins 13.2secs
15. Hayden Paddon
Subaru Impreza STi +00mins 13.4secs
PWRC standings after Stage 1 (Top 3):
1. Yuriy Protasov
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 2mins 35.7secs
2. Patrik Flodin
Subaru Impreza STi +00mins 00.5secs
3. Benito Guerra Jr
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +00mins 03.2secs
all times unofficial