Ford privateer Mads Ostberg heads the leaderboard at the end of a dramatic opening day in Spain, which claimed the scalps of a number of the WRC's big names, including Petter Solberg, Thierry Neuville, Dani Sordo, Evgeny Novikov, Chris Atkinson and Sebastien Ogier.

Ostberg finished the first loop this morning, 2.7 seconds up on Ott Tanak, both taking advantage of their better road position as heavy rain hindered those starting further back. The Adapta WRT man then held on to top spot this afternoon, and with Tanak dropping back due to brake problems, he finished the leg 27.2 seconds up on Sebastien Loeb, who vaulted up to second with a super quick time on the repeat-run through Terra Alta.

"It has been a very tricky day. It was especially difficult in the morning because we didn't expect it to be that slippery - the rain was a surprise to me at least," Ostberg reflected. "But I think we managed to go through the stages quite well and we didn't make any big mistakes. That was the key today I think - to have a clean run and still being able to push as hard as possible.

"With the next two days on Tarmac, I think S?bastien [Loeb] will be hard to beat! But really we are not looking to fight with him - for us this weekend is all about the fight with Jari-Matti [Latvala] and securing third position in the championship."

Jari-Matti Latvala meanwhile now holds third for Ford, a decent run this afternoon gaining him two places and leaving him 19.8 seconds off Loeb and 47 seconds off Ostberg.

Mikko Hirvonen is next up, and the Finn was quickest in the day ending 2 km Salou super special stage. However he was less pleased with his form in SS4 and SS5 and went off the near the end of Pesells 2, losing 6-7 seconds.

Tanak rounds out the top five, overheating brakes and a spin in the penultimate stage costing him 45 seconds and dropping him back.

SWRC leader Craig Breen finds himself a sensational sixth, followed by Han Weijs, who is making his debut in a WRC car this weekend and representing the Qatar WRT in the absence of Nasser Al-Attiyah.

Further back, Jarkko Nikara has dropped to eighth, after picking up a puncture in SS5. He also had a jack issue in the same test and in total lost over 6 minutes. P-G Andersson and Evgeny Novikov round out the provisional points' scorers, the latter gave DMACK Tyres its first ever stage win in SS4, but he then slid off and into a ditch in the next test, Terra Alta 2. The Russian is classified tenth overnight and will re-join on Saturday under the Rally 2 regulations.

In the support categories, as mentioned, Breen heads the SWRC, while in the PWRC, Marcos Ligato leads the way, 11.1 seconds up on Yeray Lemes. Jose Suarez heads the WRC Academy.

The action now continues on Saturday and Sunday and in contrast to today's mainly gravel tests, the final two legs are pure asphalt. Competitors re-start tomorrow morning at 07.00 hours [local time] and drivers face two identical loops of three stages covering 161.30km. The second test of each loop is the massive 45.97km El Priorat, one of the longest stages of the season. Competitors return to Salou for the final overnight halt at 18.57 hours [local time].

Rally de Espana: Overall standings after Stage 6 (Top 10):

1. Mads OstbergAdapta WRT Fiesta RS WRC1hour 41mins 32.4secs M
2. Sebastien LoebCitroen Total WRT DS3 WRC+00mins 27.2secs M
3. Jari-Matti LatvalaFord WRT Fiesta RS WRC+00mins 47.0secs M
4. Mikko HirvonenCitroen Total WRT DS3 WRC+01mins 02.6secs M
5. Ott TanakM-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC+01mins 10.8secs M
6. Craig BreenFord Fiesta S2000+06mins 00.9secs S
7. Han WeijsQatar WRT Citroen DS3 WRC+06mins 08.5secs M
8. Jarkko NikaraProdrive WRC Team MINI John Cooper Works WRC +08mins 20.0secs
9. P-G AnderssonProton Satria Neo S2000+09mins 42.4secs S
10. Evgeny NovikovFord Fiesta RS WRC+10mins 59.5secs


11. Abdulaziz AlkuwariSeashore Qatar WRT MINI John Cooper Works WRC+12mins 56.1secs
12. Marcos LigatoSubaru Impreza STi+12mins 59.2secs P
13. Yeray LemesMitsubishi Lancer Evo X +13mins 10.3secs P
14. Chris AtkinsonWRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC +13mins 22.0secs
15. Michal KosciuszkoMitsubishi Lancer Evo X+13mins 59.4secs P

SWRC standings after Stage 6 (Top 3):

1. Craig BreenFord Fiesta S20001hour 47mins 33.3secs S
2. P-G AnderssonProton Satria Neo S2000+03mins 41.5secs S
3. Maciej Oleksowicz Ford Fiesta S2000+08mins 38.4secs S

PWRC standings after Stage 6 (Top 3):

1. Marcos LigatoSubaru Impreza STi1hour 54mins 31.6secs P
2. Yeray LemesMitsubishi Lancer Evo X +00mins 11.1secs P
3. Michal KosciuszkoMitsubishi Lancer Evo X+01mins 00.2secs P

WRC Academy standings after Stage 6 (Top 3):

1. Jose SuarezFord Fiesta R21hour 59mins 17.0secs A
2. Pontus TidemandFord Fiesta R2+01mins 09.6secs A
3. Elfyn EvansFord Fiesta R2+01mins 55.9secs A

Notable retirements:

SS2. Petter SolbergFord WRT Fiesta RS WRCHit a rock M
SS2. Thierry Neuville Citroen Junior WRT Citroen DS3 WRC Hit a rock
SS2. Andreas MikkelsenVW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000Hit a rock
SS2/3. Martin ProkopCzech Ford National Team Fiesta RS WRC Crashed
SS3. Daniel OliveiraBrazil WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRCWent off M
SS3. Dani SordoProdrive WRC Team MINI John Cooper Works WRC Went off
SS4. Paulo Nobre WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC Accident
SS5. Evgeny NovikovFord Fiesta RS WRCWent off
SS5. Chris AtkinsonWRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC Mechanical
SS5/6. Sebastien OgierVW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000Stopped on road section

all times unofficial



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