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Loeb puts in faultless drive to lead in Catalunya.


Frenchman Sebastien Loeb set about making up for the disappointment of not scoring any points in Corsica last weekend by leading Rallye Catalunya at the end of leg one.

This penultimate round of the 2003 FIA World Rally Championship started from Lloret de Mar early this morning and took crews north of the coastal resort and into the stages surrounding the town of Vic.

Fastest out of the blocks in SS1 was Subaru's Petter Solberg. Unfortunately for the Norwegian he dropped to third on the next two tests and then out of the top ten altogether when the team was forced to change the alternator on his Impreza at the cost of 50 seconds of road penalties.

Throughout this drama, Loeb was turning in another accomplished drive. The Citroen Xsara WRC pilot was faultless over the eight stages and arrived back in Lloret this evening with a 26.2-second lead over his team-mate Carlos Sainz.

Sainz's day was similarly trouble-free in his Citroen. Markko Martin put in a sterling effort to bring his Ford Focus to an overnight third, given the problems the Estonian was having with his neck muscles, a legacy of the heavy crash which ended his run in Corsica just five days ago.

All four Citroen Xsara WRCs ran without technical problems through leg 1, although Philippe Bugalski did not like the new shock absorbers which were fitted to his car for the first three stages of the rally.

Loeb moved into the lead on the second stage. The Frenchman's only problem through the opening loop was to find a rock on the line he was taking through the stage. His concern about possible damage to the car was unfounded and he continued to set the pace on the opening leg.

"We have been pushing very hard today," said Loeb, "The problem with the rock this morning shows that you do need some luck some times. The rock hit the sump guard and knocked the front of the car into the air, then I heard it hit something on the left-rear – but we got away with it."

Sainz admitted he was trying all he knew to keep up and try to pass his team-mate, but at the same time Sainz pointed out it was a fine line between pushing to the limit and going over it. The championship leader held second position for the majority of this first day of Rallye Catalunya.



Related Pictures

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Sebastien Loeb / Daniel Elena - Citroen Xsara WRC
Carlos Sainz / Marc Marti - Citroen Xsara WRC
Markko Martin / Michael Park - Ford Focus RS WRC
21.05.2017 - 1st place Sébastien Ogier (FRA)-Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team, 2nd place Thierry Neuville (BEL)-Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, Hyundai Motorsport and 3rd place Dani Sordo (ESP)-Marc Marti (ESP),Hyundai i2 Coupe WRC, Hyundai Motorsport
30.04.2017 - 1st place Thierry Neuville (BEL)-Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, Hyundai Motorsport, 2nd place Elfyn Evans (GBR)-Daniel Barritt (GBR) Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team and Ott Tanak (EAU)-Martin Jarveoja (EST),Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team
30.04.2017 - 1st place Thierry Neuville (BEL)-Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, Hyundai Motorsport
28.04.2017 - Fabio Frisiero (ITA) Giovanni Agnese (ITA) Ford Fiesta Maxirally 1.6T
09.04.2017 - 1st place Thierry Neuville (BEL)-Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, Hyundai Motorsport,
09.04.2017 - 1st place Thierry Neuville (BEL)-Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, Hyundai Motorsport, 2nd place Sébastien Ogier (FRA)-Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team and 3rd place Dani Sordo (ESP)-Marc Marti (ESP),Hyundai i2 Coupe WRC, Hyundai Motorsport
09.04.2017 - 1st place Thierry Neuville (BEL)-Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, Hyundai Motorsport, 2nd place Sébastien Ogier (FRA)-Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team and 3rd place Dani Sordo (ESP)-Marc Marti (ESP),Hyundai i2 Coupe WRC, Hyundai Motorsport
09.04.2017 - 1st place Thierry Neuville (BEL)-Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, Hyundai Motorsport, 2nd place Sébastien Ogier (FRA)-Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team and 3rd place Dani Sordo (ESP)-Marc Marti (ESP),Hyundai i2 Coupe WRC, Hyundai Motorsport
09.04.2017 - 1st place Thierry Neuville (BEL)-Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, Hyundai Motorsport, 2nd place Sébastien Ogier (FRA)-Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team and 3rd place Dani Sordo (ESP)-Marc Marti (ESP),Hyundai i2 Coupe WRC, Hyundai Motorsport
09.04.2017 - 1st place Thierry Neuville (BEL)-Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, Hyundai Motorsport, 2nd place Sébastien Ogier (FRA)-Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team and 3rd place Dani Sordo (ESP)-Marc Marti (ESP),Hyundai i2 Coupe WRC, Hyundai Motorsport
12.02.2017 - 1st place Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)-Miikka Anttila (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT, 2nd place Ott Tanak (EAU)-Martin Jarveoja (EST),Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport World Rally Team and 3rd place Sebastien Ogier (FRA)-Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - 1st place Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)-Miikka Anttila (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT, 2nd place Ott Tanak (EAU)-Martin Jarveoja (EST),Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport World Rally Team and 3rd place Sebastien Ogier (FRA)-Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - Podium WRC 2, 1st place Pontus Tidemand (SWE)-Jonas Andersson (SWE) Skoda Fabia R5 WRC2, Skoda Motorsport, 2nd place Teemu SUNINEN (FIN) - Mikko MARKKULA (FIN) Ford Fiesta R5, M‐Sport World Rally Team and 3rd place Ole Christian VEIBY (NOR) - Stig Rune SKJÆRMOEN (NOR) Skoda Fabia R5, Printsport
12.02.2017 - 1st place Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)-Miikka Anttila (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT, 2nd place Ott Tanak (EAU)-Martin Jarveoja (EST),Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport World Rally Team and 3rd place Sébastien Ogier (FRA)-Julien Ingrassia (FRA) FordFiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team
12.02.2017 - 1st place Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)-Miikka Anttila (FIN) Toyota Yaris WRC, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT, 2nd place Ott Tanak (EAU)-Martin Jarveoja (EST),Ford Fiesta WRC, M‐Sport World Rally Team and 3rd place Sébastien Ogier (FRA)-Julien Ingrassia (FRA) FordFiesta WRC, M-Sport World Rally Team

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