Slender lead by Loeb in Sweden
SNOW BALLS: Citroen's Sebastien Loeb slaloms through the snow on Day 1 of the 2013 WRC Rally of Swedan. Image: AFP
KARLSTAD, Sweden - Nine-times World champion Sebastien Loeb drove his Citroen to a slender lead on the opening stage (Nov 7) of the 2013 Rally of Sweden as he tried to break Ford's six-year domination of the event.
Loeb, who intentionally included the Rally of Sweden in his scaled-back schedule of four races this season, carried a half-second lead into Friday, ahead of Russian Evgeny Novikov with Finland's Jari-Matti Latvala, who won in 2012, on the same time.
Loeb has found it frustratingly difficult to win in Sweden and picked up his only win there in 2004. Ford has won the most recent six races. He won the opening 2013 Rally of Monte Carlo in January but has declared the only other races he will enter will be in Argentina and his home country, France.
Norwegian Mads Ostberg is up among the leaders in fourth and just 0.7sec back in another Ford along with Finland's Mikko Hirvonen in another Citroen.
Frenchman Sebastien Ogier (VW) could only manage the day's ninth-best time, 2.5sec behind Loeb. "It's not that great but to be honest the real start will be on (Friday). There was something strange with my car," he added.