Dani Sordo has ended the opening full day of Rally Mexico on top of the leaderboard with the returning former WRC champion Sebastien Loeb giving chase for Citroen.

The Hyundai driver, who missed Rally Sweden as part of his drive sharing deal with teammate Hayden Paddon, stormed into an early lead in Mexico with a series of stage wins as the Central American event produced a high rate of attrition to the front runners.

After building a solid early lead the Spaniard has seen his advantage shrunk to under eight seconds by Loeb as he claimed his first WRC stage win since Monte Carlo 2015 in SS7, El Chocolate 2, as Sordo steadied his pace at the end of Friday’s running on SS10, Autodromo de Leon 2.

Loeb was able to leapfrog both Toyota’s Ott Tanak and Citroen teammate Kris Meeke on Friday’s second loop while defending WRC champion Sebastien Ogier remains in touch for M-Sport Ford in fifth place 30.2s off of overall leader Sordo.

Andreas Mikkelsen completed the podium contenders in sixth place for Hyundai – 1.5s off of Ogier – as the front six moved clear of the rest of the field in a tough day which saw Elfyn Evans withdraw from Rally Mexico after a heavy crash which hospitalised co-driver Daniel Barritt.

WRC championship leader Thierry Neuville sits in seventh after suffering with set-up issues followed by an engine problem and is over two minutes off the pace of Hyundai teammate Sordo in the lead.

Pontus Tidemand continues to lead the WRC2 class for Skoda with RC2 contenders Gus Greensmith and Pedro Heller (both Ford) completing the top ten runners.