AJACCIO, Corsica (AP) Five-time defending world rally champion Sebastien Ogier won three of four stages Friday to take the lead in the Tour of Corsica rally, while fellow Frenchman Sebastien Loeb saw his hopes of victory vanish on his return to the Mediterranean island.
In his Ford Fiesta, Ogier won the morning’s opening stage ahead of Loeb, who missed a left corner and slid straight into a ditch 400 meters (440 yards) after the start of the second speed test. Loeb, a nine-time world champion, escaped unscathed along with co-driver Daniel Elena.
”The corner was tighter than I thought and we got trapped,” Loeb said. ”It’s frustrating but we will be on the starting line tomorrow, although we can’t fight (for the win) anymore.”
Loeb competed at the race as part of his three-event program this year with Citroen, the team he won all of his championship titles during his rally career.
Ogier, the world championship leader, also posted the fastest time in the second and third stages at the asphalt rally. He ended fourth in the day’s final speed test claimed by Esapekka Lappi of Finland.
Ogier holds an overall lead of 33.6 seconds over Thierry Neuville of Belgium and of 38.7 seconds over Kris Meeke of Britain.
”It was a really good day,” Ogier said. ”All my rivals lost time and the car is perfect. What else could I ask for?”�