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Loeb powers to first day lead in Cyprus

  • Story Highlights
  • Sebastien Loeb continues winning ways in third round of 2009 rally season
  • Frenchman takes five of six stages of the opening day of Cyprus Rally
  • Loeb is chasing a record sixth successive world title
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(CNN) -- World champion Sebastien Loeb has made an outstanding start to Rally of Cyprus by winning five of the opening six stages on Friday.

Loeb was at his very best as he powered his Citroen to an early lead in Cyprus.

Loeb was at his very best as he powered his Citroen to an early lead in Cyprus.

The Frenchman had been concerned about his choice of tires on the asphalt stages, but need not have worried as he opened up a 41.8 second gap on Citroen teammate Dani Sordo.

Loeb, bidding for a record sixth world title in a row, set the scene by powering to a 13.5 second led on the very opening stage and had a 44 second lead by the end of the fifth.

In light rain, Sordo took the last special stage to narrow the gap.

Ford's Mikko Hirvonen is running a distant third with his teammate Jan-Matti Latvala in fourth.

Hirvonen, the nearest challenger to Loeb in the championship standings, was not happy with his performance.

"In the morning we just didn't know what to do," he told the Press Association.

"I didn't know how to drive in these conditions with gravel tires.

"If it rains, Sebastien will be in a really good position for tomorrow. It's going to be difficult to catch him."

The all-conquering Loeb, who has won the opening two rallies of the season in Ireland and Norway, believed he could have been even further ahead.

"I was a bit too careful in the rain in some places. It was the last stage of the day and I didn't want to make any mistakes as I have a good lead. I didn't take big risks."

Petter Solberg and Sebastien Ogier hold fifth and sixth positions in their Citroen Xsara and C4 WRC respectively. Russia's Evgeny Novikov was seventh with British driver Matthew Wilson holding the final pointscoring position in eighth but over four minutes behind Loeb.

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