Sebastien Ogier was the fastest man through Special Stage 1 in Barcelona for the start of Rally de España.
The M-Sport Ford driver set a time of 3:35.3s on the 3.7km test in the city, having opted for medium tyres.
“We had a good strategy with the tyres but let’s see for tomorrow,” said the Frenchman.
“We have a little less tyres than the others but I think we can manage. It won’t be easy for the rest of the weekend.”
Hyundai’s World Rally Championship leader Thierry Neuville was second by 3.7s, after making a less than ideal start to the rally when he rolled his i20 in shakedown.
Speaking after that incident, the Belgian was looking at the positives.
“It was a square right, I came into the corner and the ruts were already deeper than on the first pass,” explained Neuville.
“The car started to go onto two wheels and I tried to save the situation but we flipped over.
“Obviously we were hoping for better on the shakedown. It’s a good omen as well because back in Germany a couple of years ago we rolled in shakedown and won the rally.
“So let’s cross fingers that it will be a similar scenario this weekend.”
Ott Tanak (Toyota Gazoo), who is third in the championship behind Neuville and Ogier, was 0.5s slower again and occupies the same position after SS1.
Eric Camilli was one of the more noteworthy performers of the night as he took the WRC2 class Volkswagen Polo R5 to sixth overall on its debut, while former world champion Petter Solberg was 15th in the German marque’s other example.
Sebastien Loeb, in his third of three WRC outings this year, gave up 15.9s due to stalling his Citroen at a hairpin and is 27th overall.
Friday action begins tonight at approximately 1830 AEST and features six mostly gravel stages adding up to 144.88km of competitive running.
Rally de España: After Special Stage 1 (Top 10)
|1||1||Sebastien Ogier||FRA||M-Sport Ford||Fiesta WRC||3:35.3|
|2||5||Thierry Neuville||BEL||Hyundai||i20 WRC||+3.7|
|3||8||Ott Tanak||EST||Toyota Gazoo||Yaris WRC||+4.2|
|4||4||Andreas Mikkelsen||NOR||Hyundai||i20 WRC||+5.6|
|5||2||Elfyn Evans||GBR||M-Sport Ford||Fiesta WRC||+6.0|
|6||47||Eric Camilli||FRA||Volkswagen||Polo R5||WRC2||+7.4|
|7||6||Dani Sordo||ESP||Hyundai||i20 WRC||+7.5|
|8||32||Kalle Rovanpera||FIN||Skoda||Fabia R5||WRC2||+8.6|
|9||11||Craig Breen||IRL||Citroen||C3 WRC||+8.7|
|10||31||Jan Kopecky||CZE||Skoda||Fabia R5||WRC2||+9.0|