Ogier leads as rivals struggle in dust


Sebastien Ogier leads the Rally of Spain despite running first on the gravel roads, as his main rivals were left furious over dust levels and poor visibility. Drivers had warned on Thursday that the combination of hot, still weather conditions and low early-morning sun was likely to cause visibility issues in dust clouds on the first full loop. Ogier was adamant that clearing the loose gravel from the surface by running first on the road was going to be a much bigger penalty for him than running in his dust would be for those that followed. But it was Ogier who emerged in the lead after stage four, 8.4 seconds clear of Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville. Ogier's Volkswagen team-mates Andreas Mikkelsen and title rival Jari-Matti Latvala are back in fifth and seventh. While Mikkelsen, who had held his lead from the superspecial after SS2 before struggling much more on the following stages, was mainly troubled by dust, Latvala was also troubled by discomfort with his VW, and had a minor impact early on the first stage. Mads Ostberg and Mikko Hirvonen currently hold third and fourth places, 11s down on Neuville, and just ahead of Mikkelsen and Robert Kubica, who has made another very promising start in sixth. Despite running a potentially strong 10th on the road, Dani Sordo has struggled with the set-up of his Hyundai and is only eighth. Kris Meeke and Hayden Paddon had 'hero to zero' mornings. Meeke was fastest on SS2 and Paddon on SS3 – for his first stage win – but both then hit trouble on the next test. Citroen driver Meeke had been second to Mikkelsen after SS2, only to pick up two punctures on SS3. With only one spare, he had to retire afterwards. Paddon's SS3 performance thrust his Hyundai into third overall, but was followed by a spin into a bank at the very first corner of SS4. Subsequent damage cost him nearly six minutes.