Eight-times world champion Sebastien Loeb hold a four-second lead over teammate Mikko Hirvonen, following a dominant display by the Citroens on the opening day of the New Zealand rally.

Frenchman Loeb and Finn Hirvonen topped seven of the rally's first eight stages south-west of Auckland.

Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala took honours in stage one and had been running third overall until he went off the road and hit a fence on the penultimate stage.

The incident cost him over four minutes and sent him down to an overnight position of ninth.

Russian Evgeny Novikov was third, 1:31 behind Loeb.

Norwegian Petter Solberg lost 90 seconds on his first loop following an early decision to go against the tyre trend and opt for hard rubber, but managed work his way back up the board to round out the top four, 8.3 seconds behind Novikov.