1 January 1901
Loeb shows he’s the boss in Ireland.
Citroen's Sebastien Loeb heads the pack in Ireland following the opening leg on Friday, which was cut short due to flooding.
Originally almost 165 competitive kilometres had been on the bill, but unfortunately organisers had to cancel the two evening stages due to torrential rain. As such only six stages ran and Loeb set the pace in all but one of them, winning five on the trot after a slow start.
Seb was only seventh fastest in SS1 this morning after having opted for the standard slick tyre and he described the conditions as 'incredible'.
However, he was back on it in SS2 and SS3, first hauling himself up to second and then cutting the gap to the leader, Urmo Aava, from 22 seconds to just 6.7 seconds in Aughnasheelan 1.
Following the mid-day service in Sligo, the five-time world champion continued to charge in his C4 WRC and now on the winter/snow tyres, he grabbed the lead straight off on the re-run through Glenboy 2.
He then stretched his cushion in SS5 and SS6 to end the day with a 44.4 second lead.
"Yeah, it's going okay," Loeb told the events official website. "I didn't want to push earlier as we didn't have the right tyre so we went carefully, but now we can push hard."
Dani Sordo meanwhile is second in the sister Citroen Total WRT C4 WRC, having moved up a place on the repeat loop.
Sordo began the day with the fifth fastest time, before going fourth in SS2 and SS3. He then set the second best time in every single stage in the afternoon to pull clear of Mikko Hirvonen, who trails the Spaniard by 20.4 seconds overnight.
“On the last two everything was okay,” said Dani. “It feels really good to drive with the snow tyre. The feeling is nice. I'm confident with the car, the tyres, the notes - everything is perfect.”
Hirvonen completes the top three, but disappointingly for the Finn he was unable to match Loeb - and he was also unable to keep up with Sordo on the second loop.
Stobart Ford's Henning Solberg lies fourth - two minutes further back in his Focus and a minute up on Conrad Rautenbach, who currently leads the way for the new Citroen Junior Team.
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