PARIS (Reuters) - Sebastien Ogier built a strong lead in the opening leg of the Rallye de France as returning nine-time world champion and fellow Frenchman Sebastien Loeb crashed out on Friday.
Five-time champion Ogier won the first three stages in his M-Sport and leads Belgian Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) by 33.6 seconds and Britain’s Kris Meeke by 38.7.
“It was a very good day,” Ogier said as he summed up the first day.
Loeb, who made his comeback to World Rally Championship in Mexico after a three-year hiatus, was second in the opening stage but slid straight into a ditch in the first kilometers of the second stage and was forced to abandon.
Neuville, meanwhile, was frustrated with the performance of his car.
“It did not work as expected, I’m disappointed,” he said.
The Rallye de France in Corsica continues on Saturday and Sunday.
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Christian Radnedge