Ogier wins Rally Italy opening stage


World Rally Championship leader Sebastien Ogier won the opening stage of the Rally Italy on Thursday, triumphing in a speed test.

The defending champion, who is seeking his fourth world title in succession, beat Hyundai's Hayden Paddon by 1.3 seconds in his head-to-head run at a former motocross circuit.

His time was enough to seal victory in the 1.2-mile Ittiri Arena stage, the Frenchman - who has said he will abandon the rally early if his pregnant wife goes into labour - was three-tenths of a second ahead of Ott Tanak and Volkswagen team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala.

Ogier will hope to build his advantage on Friday, when a further eight stages will take place.