MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi has described Friday's opening stages of Wales Rally GB as "the worst rally conditions I've ever driven in" - but has at least avoided a repeat of his early 2002 retirement.

Adverse weather conditions had seen Friday's scheduled action drastically reduced before the day even began - the planned total of 123.68 competitive kilometres being slashed to just 57.04.

That was then reduced further when stage one was cancelled altogether, due to the amount of ice.

The belated action thus began on stage two, Sweet Lamb (4.28km), which Rossi completed in a 45th position, 34.5sec slower than the faster car. Nevertheless, Rossi must have been slightly relieved just to reach the finish, having crashed out on the first forest stage in 2002.

Rossi, driving a Stobart Ford Focus WRC car, then completed the 18.28km third stage in 33rd place, 1min 51.1sec behind the fastest car, moving the Italian up to 34th overall.

"It's just unbelievable!" said Rossi, who finished eleventh overall in much kinder conditions in the 2006 Rally of New Zealand. "There's lots of ice, but, hey, it's still fun! It's the worst rally conditions I've ever driven in... so far!"

The treacherous conditions have helped Citroen's Sebastien Ogier take an unexpected early lead.

Stage four has also been cancelled, leaving four more competitive stages on day one.



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