The World Rally Championship has traveled to NZ for the 5th round of the 2010 campaign and all eyes were on Sebastian Loeb who has been dominant so far this year. Day 1 would prove a little difficult for the reigning champion.
New Zealand has provided the WRC drivers with more mixed surface racing that was rather successful in Turkey. Matthew Wilson would jump to a flying start as he ran 2nd fastest on the second stage of the day before lady luck would dash his hopes. The British Stobart driver would have his driver side window collapse mid stage, spraying the drivers with dust and glass bits. A cruel end to a much needed positive start. Lady Luck would not stop at Matthew Wilson however as Sebastian Loeb would also be caught out by her. The current points leader and Citroen #1 would hit the wall of a bridge that would cause significant damage to his drivers door. He would lose about a minute and a half due to the incident and struggle to keep the door shut until service.
The incidents above have given way to what finally may be a surprise winner. Petter Solberg would end day 1 in first place overall. Petter will now clean gravel on day 2, but may see some relief as there will be asphalt stages mixed in. Jari-Matti Latvala would round out the day in second place. The Ford #2 admitted that he was not happy with his performance during the stages but was thankful for the second place. Sebastian Ogier is making the most of his unplanned trip to New Zealand. The Citroen Junior team was not originally supposed to be in New Zealand, but the Frenchman was granted a slot a few weeks ago and is making the most of it with a third place finish on day 1. Depending on the degree of gravel, Ogier may be in a prime position to take the lead tomorrow and may be in position to set us his first ever WRC victory.
Mikko Hirvonen is running in the fifth position and struggling like his teammate. Ford still stands a chance of outscoring Citroen this weekend providing they both finish. Something needs to be done as the Ford duo has had no answer for the factory Citroens or the private Citroens for that matter. All will be a bit more clear as the second day of action has just started and Ogier is on the move.