Loeb ‘surprised’ by Monday’s stage win

World Rally Championship (WRC) legend Sebastien Loeb admitted he was somewhat surprised when he finished Monday's stage of the Dakar Rally at the top of the standings, despite finding himself stuck in the mud at one point.

The nine-time WRC champion led Monday's shortened 387km stage from start to finish to open up a 2m32s lead over his Peugeot team-mate Stephane Peterhansel.

"It's a very good start," Loeb said during an interview with motorsport.com following Monday's stage to Termas de Rio Hondo.

"The car is very, very good; our Peugeot was very fast in the stage and it's good news for the rest of the event – especially because the road was a little bit like a WRC stage, and the buggy is not the best on this kind of road, and not very easy to handle.

"Good drive, with just a little mistake in the mud but [after getting stuck] finally I could go again and I'm very happy with the result.

"I knew that I drove quite a good stage, except the mistake in the middle, but for the rest I was always drive with a good rhythm and without mistakes.

"I knew the stage couldn't be too bad, but I really didn't expect the best time because I was sure the four-wheel-drive cars would be faster than us in the stage".

Loeb added that Monday's first proper stage of the Dakar was more similar to WRC than he expected, he still had to make changes to his approach.

"Is not the same kind of driving, WRC and rally raid, but I do what I can," the Frenchman said.

"In the twisty places, the style is the same but in the fast corners you have to be more careful because you don't know what will arrive next. But the feeling was good.

"I think it's a very good start for Peugeot, much better then last year! But we have a long way in front and we know it's hard for cars and drivers."