11 Sep 2010

Solberg has early lead in Rally of Japan

6:01 am on 11 September 2010

The World champion Sebastien Loeb slipped to a sixth place finish on the first leg of the Rally of Japan, almost a minute behind leader Petter Solberg.

Norway's Solberg shrugged off a fever to open up almost a 10 second lead in his privately-run Citroen over Ford's Mikko Hirvonen, who completed a pacey afternoon finish to leap from fourth to second place.

Frenchman Loeb, who is searching for his seventh consecutive world title, leads the standings by 58 points but endured a difficult day after a broken front-left damper hurt his pace.

Loeb's Citroen team mate Sebastien Ogier, second in the overall standings, finished the day in third with Jari-Matti Latvala of Ford in fourth.