"Maestro" Loeb won four of six distances and has gained a lead of 9.9 seconds down to Ogier.
Undeniably impressive considering that the 47-year-old last drove in the World Rally Championship in September 2020, when he finished third in Turkey.
But most masters show no ring rust at all despite a brand new car, new regulations, sparse with tests.
- I was very surprised when I did the best time on shakedown during my first turn because I am not particularly good at shakedown most of the time.
But since then I have tried to invest in getting a feel for the car.
It is not a big margin, but we are happy to lead after the first day, Loeb says to WRC TV after Saturday's last leg.
Third is Welshman Elfyn Evans, 22.0 seconds behind Loeb.
First stretch victory
It became a great Swedish source of joy during today's stretches.
Map reader Jonas Andersson guided the British Gus Greensmith to the first stretch victory of his career in the Rally1 class in the WC.
That on the seventh leg where Greensmith was 1.4 seconds faster than Sébastien Ogier and was jubilantly happy, almost teary-eyed afterwards.
Heavy for Solberg
For Oliver Solberg, it was a heavy day where he was disturbed by smoke in the cabin initially.
- I do not trust the car at all.
It's all the smoke in the car, I lose all concentration and got dizzy before the start, he told WRC TV at the finish of SS4.
It went a little better in the afternoon, but the Swede has to settle for a tenth place overall so far.
- I can not say that I am happy with the day, but in a way I am still happy.
We know what we have to do and everyone is super motivated, says Solberg.
The rally continues with five special stages on Saturday.
SVT broadcasts live at 9.45 (SVT 2 / Play) and 14.00 (SVT 2 / Play).
We also chat after the two TV shows, the last one is a video chat that is broadcast exclusively on SVT Play.Keywords: