- Sebastien Loeb leads the world rally championship after day one in Monte Carlo
- The Frenchman, who drives for Citroen, is over a minute ahead of Dani Sordo in second
- Loeb is gunning for his ninth straight world rally championship title
Normal service resumed for champion Sebastien Loeb as he began his quest for a ninth straight world rally championship title by taking the overnight lead at the Monte Carlo Rally.
Loeb, from France, had been trailing rival Jari-Matti Latvala by 30 seconds going into the final stage of Wednesday's race but the Finn crashed and rolled his Ford, forcing him to retire.
Dani Sordo, driving for Mini, took second despite damaging his suspension during the morning stage -- known as a 'special.' The Spaniard is one minute and four seconds behind his French rival.
Monte Carlo is the first stop on the world rally championship circuit, which features 13 separate races around the globe and runs until November.
Loeb has won a record eight straight titles, all for Citroen, and he was quickest in three of the four specials.
His Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen collided with a wall and sustained damage to one of his brakes, while Ford's Petter Solberg decision to use his snow tires meant he ended the day in third place, a second behind Sordo.
A total of seven former world champions are part of the field for the 2012 installment, while Monte Carlo was hosting the world rally championship for the first time in three years.
There are six race stages on Thursday.