Citroen's Sebastien Loeb set the top time today in the qualifying stage ahead of this weekend's Rally Argentina, the fifth round in the 2012 FIA World Rally Championship.

Loeb completed the 4.59 kilometre Villa Garcia-Cabalango test in 2 minutes 36.369 seconds, edging out team-mate, Mikko Hirvonen by 0.759 seconds. Loeb, who was also quickest in the shakedown, will now of course get first choice of start position for tomorrow's opening leg.

"It was not so bad," Loeb said. "I made no mistakes. I was happy with the tyres. The rain made it a little difficult."

"I was equal with Sebastien," Hirvonen added, "but then I made a mistake and went wide on one corner."

Dani Sordo meanwhile was third on his guest outing with the Ford World Rally Team, subbing for the injured Jari-Matti Latvala, who has been forced to sit out this event after suffering a broken collarbone in training.

Petter Solberg took fourth in the other works Fiesta RS WRC, ahead of Thierry Neuville and Mads Ostberg. Ott Tanak was seventh while Evgeny Novikov, Nasser Al-Attiyah and Martin Prokop filled positions 8 through to 10.

Drivers will now pick their start positions at 13.00 hours local time (17.00 hours UK time).

Rally Argentina then continues this evening, with SS1, the short 6.04 km Parque Tematico Carlos Paz test, kicking off proceedings at 20.08 hours local time. The action doesn't begin proper, however, until Friday. Friday's leg includes over 190 competitive kilometres - including the monster 51.88km Ascochinga-Agua de Oro test.

Rally Argentina: Qualifying stage:

1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 2mins 36.369secs M
2. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +00.759secs M
3. Dani Sordo Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +01.637secs M
4. Petter Solberg Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +03.593s M
5. Thierry Neuville Citroen Junior WRT DS3 WRC +03.738s M
6. Mads Ostberg Adapta WRT Fiesta RS WRC +03.756s M
7. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +04.357s M
8. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +05.825s M
9. Nasser Al-Attiyah Qatar WRT Citroen DS3 WRC +06.234sM
10. Martin Prokop Ford Fiesta RS WRC +07.016s
11. Armindo Araujo WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC
12. Daniel Oliveira Brazil WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC
13. Paulo Nobre WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC
14. Eliseo Salazar MINI John Cooper Works WRC

all times unofficial