MONACO (AP) — Nine-time world rally champion Sebasiten Loeb won three of Wednesday's four stages to take a commanding lead on the opening day of the Monte Carlo Rally, one of only four races the Frenchman will contest this season after going into semi-retirement.
Loeb has won six of the past seven Monte Carlo Rallies and looks set for another triumph. The Citroen driver leads countryman Sebastien Ogier, who won the first stage of the day by 1 minute, 20.3 seconds. Finland's Mikko Hirvonen was in third place, 1:46.7 back.
"Ok folks, all looks to be ok with times now," Loeb tweeted with a photo of the leaderboard. Loeb won't secure a 10th straight world title as he will race only in Sweden, Argentina and France this year after Monte Carlo.
Ogier won stage one by nearly four seconds ahead of Loeb, but Loeb won the next 10 seconds ahead of Ogier's Volkswagen to claim the lead. Loeb switched to studded tires to combat the snowy roads to win the third stage, and dominated the fourth to beat Hirvonen by 34 seconds.