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Ogier leads in Portugal

Sebastien Ogier continued his fine recent form by holding the lead at the end of the opening day of the Rally of Portugal yesterday .

The Citroen Junior Team driver, who finished second last time out, after a last-stage spin denied him victory in New Zealand, worked his way to the front towards the end of the morning loop of stages and then set about increasing his advantage on the afternoon's repeat run.

The Frenchman holds a 26.6-second lead over the factory Citroen of Dani Sordo, with championship leader Sebastien Loeb a further 18 seconds back in third place, as the French manufacturer locked out the top three spots.

Mikko Hirvonen is fourth in the first Ford Focus, with 2003 world champion Petter Solberg fifth and New Zealand winner Jari-Matti Latvala back in sixth.

Sordo had moved into the lead after topping the times in the morning stage and the Spaniard retained the advantage through the next test, but Ogier assumed the lead after setting the fastest time during the final stage of the morning.

The Frenchman rammed home his advantage with an impressive display during the afternoon loop, his cause further aided by Sordo suffering a throttle problem.

Belfast Telegraph