Sebastien Loeb leading Monte Carlo Rally after day one image

Sebastien Loeb dominated the first day of the Monte Carlo Rally and is 1 minute 20 seconds ahead of Sebastien Ogier.

The world champion was quickest by 12 seconds on special stage 3 and 34 seconds on special stage 4. The Frenchman, who is doing only four rallies this season, was better than his rivals on a tarmac that was half-dry, half covered with ice.

Volkswagen’s Sebastien Ogier was second in the Polo R WRC, even though he lost over a minute to Loeb. Mikko Hirvonen climbed from seventh to third ahead of Citroen team-mate Dani Sordo. However, the Finn is still 26 seconds behind Ogier.

Jari-Matti Latvala pushed harder in the second half of the day after a set-up change made him more comfortable in the VW Polo. The Finn climbed to fifth by the end of the day. On sixth place there’s Evgeny Novikov, the top M-Sport Ford driver, ahead of 2011 Monte Carlo Rally winner Bryan Bouffier and Novikov’s team-mate Juho Hanninen.

Another M-Sport driver, Thierry Neuville, retired after a mistake on stage four.

Overall rankings 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