Citroen's Sebastien Loeb continues to lead the Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo by 18.3 seconds - the same margin as last night - after the opening test of the day, SS7 [Lantosque-Col de Braus], which was stopped following Nicolas Vouilloz's accident.

The French driver was the fourth car into the test, however 25km in, he skidded off the road broke the suspension of his Bozian prepared Peugeot 206 WRC and blocked the 34.41km test, the longest of the event.

For the record Marcus Gronholm set the fastest time, but all competitors were later awarded Antony Warmbold's time [28mins 41.3secs], who was the last competitor to complete the stage before the incident occurred.

Had it run without fault, the test could have produced some interesting results. Only Francois Duval and Freddy Loix had opted to run on studded tyres for a surface that was very damp with intermittent ice patches, while Loix's Peugeot was plagued by power steering trouble.

Petter Solberg slid wide on a hairpin and hit a wall, but the damage sustained to his Impreza was only cosmetic. After the finish, crews returned to Monaco for the second service of the day, speaking then, the Norwegian noted: "It's a shame that stage was cancelled, because it would have been a good time. I think I could have taken a place back, but that's just how it is."

Subaru team-mate, Mikko Hirvonen added: "We saw the yellow flag about 5km from the end, but until then things had been going very well. We had a nice steady run, but it was very difficult as there was so much fog. I also collected a puncture just after the start, but the mousse worked perfectly and it didn't cause us any problems."

The next stage is scheduled to start at 1121 hours local time.

 

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