Sebastien Loeb at 46 became the oldest driver to lead a round of the World Rally Championship (WRC) after ending Friday’s opening leg of Rally Turkey with a 1.2 second advantage over Hyundai teammate Thierry Neuville.
The Frenchman, a nine-time world champion and three-time Rally Turkey winner who now races only in selected events, was competing for the first time since January’s Monte Carlo season opener.
Turkey is the fifth round of the championship.
“I didn’t expect to be leading tonight,” he told the wrc.com Web site after the two short and dusty evening speed tests totaling 25.22km.
“The last stage, I had a lot of pressure at the start because we didn’t find the road so good. I had precise notes so I was able to do it and leading the rally tonight is the best thing that can happen,” he said.
Toyota’s championship leader Sebastien Ogier, who won six titles in a row after compatriot Loeb retired from full-time rallying, was in third place, 0.1 seconds behind Neuville.
Teammates Elfyn Evans and Kalle Rovanpera were fourth and fifth respectively.
Estonian world champion Ott Tanak was in seventh for Hyundai, but only 4.8 seconds off the lead.
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