Sebastien Loeb will get to choose his road position for Friday's opening stages on Wales Rally GB before his rivals after setting the pace during qualifying on Wednesday.

The World Rally Championship points leader set a time of 2m 22.260s on his run through the stage at the Walters Arena complex, with the Citroen ace able to complete his run through the stage before rain that was in the air started to fall.

"It was a good run," he said. "I made one or two small mistakes but I am happy, it was not raining for me."

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The drivers behind weren't so lucky however, with Petter Solberg the first man to head into the stage after the rain had started to come down. The Ford driver pushed hard to beat Loeb but ended up just 0.051s slower than the Frenchman.

"It's unbelievable," he reflected. "The rain tap is turned on again at the start line. I didn't know what the grip would be like and I was braking too early for some of the corners. It's frustrating but I still have one aim and that is to win."

Mikko Hirvonen was third quickest ahead of Thierry Neuville, who was an encouraging fourth ahead of his first attempt at the Welsh event. Defending champion Jari-Matti Latvala was fifth with the top six completed by Mads Ostberg.

Fresh from a medal-winning performance in the London Olympics, Nasser Al-Attiyah was seventh with Ott Tanak, Matthew Wilson and Evgeny Novikov rounding out the top ten.

Chris Atkinson was eleventh in the first of the MINI Coopers having run wide during the stage.

Drivers will choose their starting position on Thursday during the starting ceremony in Llandudno.

Wales Rally GB: Qualifying stage:

1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 2m 22.260s M
2. Petter Solberg Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +0.051s M
3. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +0.872s M
4. Thierry Neuville Citroen Junior WRT DS3 WRC +0.878s M
5. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +1.133s M
6. Mads Ostberg Adapta WRT Fiesta RS WRC +1.271s M
7. Nasser Al-Attiyah Qatar WRT Citroen DS3 WRC +1.589sM
8. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +1.818s M
9. Matthew Wilson M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +2.217s
10. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +2.828s M
11. Chris Atkinson WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC +3.617s
12. Martin Prokop Ford Fiesta RS WRC +4.222s
13. Jannie Habig M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +10.474s
14. Paulo Nobre WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC +11.558s