Ostberg enjoys Spain rain

Mads Ostberg took the lead after the opening day of the Rally of Spain as a heavy downpour thwarted the main favourites.

Jari-Matti Latvala took the first stage but during the second 26.5km second stage, the best of the conditions were enjoyed early on before the rain fell and severely hampered the big names.

It resulted in Estonian Ott Tanak and Norwegian Ostberg, both driving Ford Fiestas for M-Sport and Adapta World Rally team respectively separated by a tenth of a second at the top of the timesheets.

Mikko Hirvonen, Sebastien Loeb and Latvala dropped considerable amounts of time, with Petter Solberg exiting after hitting a hole in the road and breaking his front-left suspension.

Although Loeb, winner of the last seven Spanish rallies, captured the 44km third stage, he barely took anything out of Tanak and Ostberg, the latter eking out a small advantage over his non-factory rival.

With the muddy conditions prevailing into the three afternoon stages, Russian Yevgeny Novikov emerged a shock winner of the fourth in his Ford, followed closely by Latvala and Ostberg.

Loeb struggled in his Citroen, falling 35 seconds behind Ostberg 35, before mounting a comeback on stage five with victory to move up to second and close the gap to 25s.

By the end of the day Ostberg, who won in Portugal earlier this year, leads Loeb by 27.2secs, with Latvala 47secs adrift, followed by Hirvonen and Tanak, both just over a minute down.