Monte Carlo Rally 2013 - Day One

Despite declaring his partial retirement from the World Rally Championship stage, Sebastien Loeb dominated the second loop of Monte Carlo Rally stages, with his lead confirmed as 1m20s. The running order had been unclear for over three hours due to problems with new provider SIT's timing system on stage three. The world champion, who is only contesting four rallies this year, was quickest by 12 seconds on SS3 and 34s on SS4.

In the most challenging of road conditions; half-ice, half-dry, Loeb found far more confidence than his rivals and although his nearest pursuer, former team mate Sebastien Ogier, lost over a minute to Loeb, he still holds second place for Volkswagen.

Mikko Hirvonen progressed from seventh to third ahead of Citroen team-mate Dani Sordo, despite hating the conditions, but the Finn remains 26s off Ogier.

Jari-Matti Latvala improved in the afternoon following set-up changes to his VW Polo and after posting only 10th after the first loop, he improved to fifth by the end of the day. M-Sport Ford's leading driver was Evgeny Novikov sitting at sixth, just ahead of 2011 Monte winner Bryan Bouffier and Novikov's team-mate Juho Hanninen, who felt he had been too cautious.

Thierry Neuville, another M-Sport runner, was the first leading retirement, dropping out of fifth following a costly mistake on stage four.

Leading positions after SS4:

Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 1h39m49.0s
2. Sebastien Ogier VW + 1m20.3s
3. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen + 1m46.7s
4. Dani Sordo Citroen + 2m01.2s
5. Jari-Matti Latvala VW + 2m32.2s
6. Evgeny Novikov Qatar M-Sport Ford + 2m50.6s
7. Bryan Bouffier PH Citroen + 2m57.1s
8. Juho Hanninen Qatar M-Sport Ford + 3m03.5s
9. Mads Ostberg Qatar M-Sport Ford + 4m45.1s
10. Martin Prokop Czech Ford + 7m11.0s

17th January, 2013