Sebastien Loeb left his rivals in the World Rally Championship trailing on the Rally RACC Catalunya-Costa Daurada on Friday as he underlined yet again his mastery on tarmac.
Loeb seized P1 right from the word go and he completed the opening test, the 20.48 kilometre-run through La Mussara, in 11 minutes 17.3 seconds - 1.5 seconds up on his Citroen
team-mate, Dani Sordo.
It was in the next test though that he put in a big charge and extended his advantage to 7.4 seconds. He then just edged out Sordo in SS3 to return to the mid-day halt in PortAventura with a 7.5 second lead.
On the repeat loop in the afternoon Loeb continued in a similar vein, 1.3 seconds up on Sordo in SS4, 3.5 seconds ahead in SS5 and the same amount in front in SS6.
The four-time champion will now take a 15.8 second cushion into day 2 and already he is looking well placed to match his wins in Spain from 2007, 2006 and 2005, as well as further increase his advantage in his battle with Mikko Hirvonen
for the 2008 drivers' title.
"My car has handled perfectly all day and we didn't make any mistakes, so we will try to make sure things stay that way tomorrow," he vowed.
Dani Sordo meanwhile may not have been able to beat his team-mate on home ground, but he was still the only one that could stay anywhere near the Frenchman and he played the perfect support role.
Indeed, like Loeb, he was 'Mr Consistent' and with second fastest times in every stage, he ensured Citroen
finished up one-two, well ahead of the Fords.
"I felt more confident second time round. We continued to push hard to extend our lead over our rivals in third place and the gap now isn't bad. But it's by no means sufficient to start thinking that it's in the bag," Dani noted. "There are still two more tough days to come."