Multiple world champion Sebastien Loeb heads a Citroen 1-2 on the Acropolis Rally of Greece at the end of day one, the seventh round in the 2008 FIA World Rally Championship.

Loeb was left trailing Jari-Matti Latvala on the opening loop this morning, and the Frenchman was 5.8 seconds slower than the Finn in SS1, the 11.57 kilometre-run through Schimatari.

Seb bounced back in SS2 however, topping the times and cutting the gap to just 1.5 seconds. Although he was unable to match the BP Ford Abu Dhabi man in SS3, he headed into the first service second overall, just 4.2 seconds off the lead.

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On the repeat loop in the afternoon, Loeb finally took the lead, thanks to a combination of three successive fastest times and the misfortune that struck Latvala in the penultimate test.

The Citroen #1 eventually finished the day with a 15.7 second cushion and considering he was second on the road and had to play the 'road sweeper' early on, he was more than pleased.

"The phenomenon we saw in Sardinia didn't materialise here," he reflected. "This time, there was an acceptable amount of grip second time through once all the other competitors had been through; sufficient, in any case, to close the gap, move into the lead and then pull clear.

"But we couldn't afford to hang about! Daniel [Elena] and I pushed extremely hard and we only lifted over the trickiest portions. This rally is far from over however, and we could be in for a drama-packed weekend."

Dani Sordo meanwhile ended the day second, moving up a spot in the final stage, when Jari suffered suspension problems after hitting a rock.

Dani set top three times in all the 'proper' stages and was encouraged by his pace, even if he did suffer from overheating problems this afternoon.

"I stayed focused on my objective. That enabled me to make the most of our car's strengths to keep a footing on the podium. We tried to reproduce the same pace as this morning and that seemed to function," he continued.

"We are now in a good position to target a top result for Citroen. We will need to profit from that and do all we can to steer clear of all the pitfalls associated with this tough event."

Petter Solberg was next up for Subaru with the new Impreza WRC2008 and he is currently on course for the final place on the podium, albeit over a minute off the front runners.

'Hollywood' enjoyed a good battle with his brother Henning all day and in the end finished 6.9 seconds ahead, having set five top-five stage times.

"We have had very good pace with the new Subaru and no major problems," noted the 2003 World Rally champion. "That's very important on a rough rally like this. I am very happy."

Henning was also pretty pleased and actually finished proceedings as not only the lead Stobart driver, but the top Ford man too.

"We had a good feeling with the car all morning and it is staying strong in these tough conditions," he continued. "The stages are not as rough as I thought they were going to be but it is extremely hot in the car so I am just trying my best to concentrate on my driving.

"The exception to this was stage 6, it was incredible, and the roads were right down to bedrock. I had to back off so as not to damage the car. We lost some time but it was definitely the right decision as some of the others had problems and now we have moved up to fourth position."

Further down the order Urmo Aava was fifth in his privately entered PH Sport-run Citroen C4 WRC, just 9.5 seconds off the battling Solberg's after another impressive run.

Jari-Matti Latvala and Mikko Hirvonen came in sixth and seventh, with suspension problems both forcing them to nurse their Focus' through the short 4.60 kilometre Tatoi 1 super special after they clobbered the same rock right at the end of the penultimate stage.

"A rock was jutting out from the bedrock in a rut in the middle of the corner," explained Jari. "I was doing about 150kph when I hit it and the impact damaged the rear right suspension.

"I didn't see the rock until I hit it. It was a very rough stage and the rock wasn't in my pace notes."

Chris Atkinson rounded out the points' scorers in eighth and like Petter he was happy with the new Impreza, although he was slowed by suspension problems in SS7 and was a good 10-15 seconds off the pace.

Of the rest Suzuki duo Per-Gunnar Andersson and Toni Gardemeister brought their SX4 WRC's safely to the finish in ninth and eleventh, sandwiching Munchi's Ford man Federico Villagra.

"It has not been our best day. But we are here, and that's good. We need more power from the engine. That is the conclusion of the day. Apart from that, everything is okay," said Gardemeister.

Britain's Matthew Wilson ended the day 12th, having lost time with a propshaft failure in SS3, while Aris Vovos and Conrad Rautenbach were 13th and 14th, with Khalid Al-Qassimi completing the top 15.

In the PWRC Juho Hanninen and Nasser Al-Attiyah enjoyed a day long battle for class honours, with the latter re-taking top spot in the penultimate stage and finishing up over a minute in front after his rival had problems.

Mirco Baldacci completes the PWRC top three followed by Patrik Sandell's Peugeot 207 S2000 and then Simone Campedelli and Fumio Nutahara.

In terms of retirements Gigi Galli was the big scalp going out in SS2 when he hit a large rock in the middle of the road which had been pulled out by another competitor. This immediately broke the front right track control arm in the suspension and this in turn pulled the driveshaft out of the gearbox. He will now re-start on day two under the SupeRally regulations.

Mads Ostberg also went out this morning in his Adapta-run Subaru Impreza WRC, succumbing to front differential issues.

The action now continues on Saturday and the second day promises to be the toughest, with drivers reporting from the recce that the three tests, which are used twice, are the roughest of the event.

Competitors leave Tatoi at 08.30 to tackle 119.12km of competition, west of Athens. The two loops of stages pass close to the Corinth Canal and are split by a return to the service park. Drivers return there for the final overnight halt at 19.06 [all times local].