Hirvonen's Ford-Pirelli leads the pack on the rally New Zealand

The opening day of the Antipodean event was packed with drama. Reigning World Champion Sebastien Loeb set things off by nearly rolling his Citroen C4 WRC on the first stage. Chris Atkinson (Subaru Impreza WRC) went one step further, by actually rolling on SS5. Matthew Wilson, as well as Petter and Henning Solberg, were all slowed down by technical problems. On the final stage of the day, Loeb was hit by with a 30-second penalty for clocking into the time control late.

Hamilton, 29 August 2008 - The Pirelli Scorpion -equipped Ford Focus WRC of Hirvonen-Lehtinen is in front of the Rally New Zealand, round 11 of the World Rally Championship. Hirvonen leads the Citroen C4 WRCs of Loeb-Elena and Sordo-Marti on a rally that was rich in surprises from the very start.