Loeb moves up into P1 in final test

Further down the order, Sebastien Ogier and Urmo Aava come in ninth and tenth, both slipping back in SS8, the latter losing around 25 seconds when he went off the road.

"It was disappointing to lose time after we hit a snow bank, because we were trying to be careful," said Aava. "I just missed my braking for a slow right corner and nosed into the bank; we had to get some spectators to help push the car out."

Of the rest, Citroen Junior Team men Evgeny Novikov and Conrad Rautenbach end day one in eleventh and twelfth, followed by Adapta's Mads Østberg and then P-WRC leader, Patrik Sandell.

Sandell has led the Production category from the word go and while he did come under pressure from Andreas Mikkelsen, he now lies more than 2 minutes up on Armindo Araujo, who is second.

Martin Prokop completes the P-WRC rostrum at this early stage, with Andis Neiksans fourth and Mikkelsen fifth after a mistake in Kongsvinger 2, which cost him over 3.5 minutes.

In terms of retirements the only major casualty was two-time P-WRC champion, Toshi Arai. Arai had to call it a day this morning due to an engine problem. Ironically he had already switched to a new unit prior to SS1, something that had landed him with a 5 minute penalty.

The action now continues on Saturday - and the second leg is centred north of Hamar, in the mountain region around Lillehammer. After re-starting at 06.20 hours, drivers face two identical loops of four stages covering 118.94km before the final overnight halt at 17.44 hours. SS10, the 24.36 km Mountain 1 test, begins at 07.53 hours [all times local].

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Sebastien Loeb (FRA) Daniel Elena (MON), Citroën C4, Citroën Total World Rally Team

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