Citroen leads way in Rally Italy

2012-10-19 08:17

TERRANOVA, Sardinia - Citroen drivers Sebastien Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen dominated the opening day of the Rally of Italy on Thursday, October 18, 2012 with each of them winning a stage.

Loeb, who clinched his ninth consecutive world title at the Rally of France earlier in October 2012 heads the leaderboard with a 1.1sec advantage over his team mate. Ford's Petter Solberg is third, 13.9sec off the pace.


Loeb said: "It's a great battle. It's just one second. We had to push really hard in this stage, but it was OK. The car is working very well."

Loeb won the opening stage, 1.4sec ahead of his team mate, but Hirvonen was faster on the other.

"I am really happy with the start," Hirvonen said. "I feel good in the car, I could feel the rhythm straight away. I want to win this rally but everybody wants to win this rally.

"There are still three days to go, let's see what happens."

Thierry Neuville is fourth and Mads Ostberg fifth after hitting a rock in the first stage and damaging his steering.

Jari-Matti Latvala was fastest in qualifying in the morning for the penultimate round,but broke a wheel in the second stage, leaving him 42.1 seconds behind.

"10 kilometers into the stage I touched some bedrock on a left-hander and basically it broke the center of the wheel and the air came out," Latvala said. "To lose only 30 seconds with this problem shows that Michelin did a good job with the tyres."