Citroen ace Sebastien Loeb has taken the early lead on Rally Argentina following the short opening super special this afternoon, which kicked off the sixth round in the 2011 World Rally Championship.

Loeb, who went up against Mikko Hirvonen in the 3.02 kilometre-run through Super Especial Carlos Paz 1, completed the test in 2 minute 25.9 seconds, 1.7 seconds up on his Ford rival.

That put him quickest overall, 0.9 seconds up on fellow Citroen DS3 runner Petter Solberg, while Sebastien Ogier is third overall, ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala and Hirvonen.

"It's only the start, there's a long way to go over three days and one second is nothing," Loeb told the official WRC website. "But I'm happy for the start and we will see tomorrow what we can do [running first on the road]. The stage was very nice for a super stage."

Federico Villagra meanwhile was sixth, albeit 5.5 seconds off Hirvonen, followed by M-Sport Stobart duo, Matt Wilson and Mads Ostberg. Ken Block, who is returning to the fold following his big crash in the shakedown for March's Rally de Portugal, was ninth, ahead of PWRC front runner, Yuriy Protasov in tenth.

The action now gets underway 'proper' on Friday, with around 156 competitive kilometres on the bill - and two loops of three stages.

SS2, the 18.23 km-run through El Mirador / San Lorenzo 1, begins at 09.36 hours local time [13.36 hours UK time].

Rally Argentina: Overall standings after Stage 1 (Top 10):

1. Sebastien LoebCitroen Total WRT DS3 WRC2mins 25.9secs M
2. Petter SolbergPSWRT Citroen DS3 WRC+00mins 00.9secs M
3. Sebastien OgierCitroen Total WRT DS3 WRC+00mins 01.0secs M
4. Jari-Matti LatvalaFord Abu Dhabi WRT Fiesta RS WRC+00mins 01.5secs M
5. Mikko HirvonenFord Abu Dhabi WRT Fiesta RS WRC+00mins 01.7secs M
6. Federico VillagraMunchis Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC+00mins 07.2secs M
7. Matthew WilsonM-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC+00mins 07.4secs M
8. Mads Ostberg M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC+00mins 08.4secs M
9. Ken BlockMonster WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC+00mins 09.2secs M
10. Yuriy ProtasovMitsubishi Lancer Evo X+00mins 09.8secs P


11. Patrik FlodinSubaru Impreza STi+00mins 10.3secsP
12. Peter van Merksteijn Jr Van Merksteijn Citroen DS3 WRC+00mins 10.6secs M
13. Benito Guerra JrMitsubishi Lancer Evo X+00mins 13.0secs P
14. Daniel OliveiraBrazil WRT Mini John Cooper Works+00mins 13.2secs M
15. Hayden PaddonSubaru Impreza STi+00mins 13.4secs P

PWRC standings after Stage 1 (Top 3):

1. Yuriy ProtasovMitsubishi Lancer Evo X2mins 35.7secs P
2. Patrik FlodinSubaru Impreza STi+00mins 00.5secsP
3. Benito Guerra JrMitsubishi Lancer Evo X+00mins 03.2secs P



all times unofficial



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