Citroen drivers Sebastien Ogier and Sebastien Loeb played down their apparent performance advantage after dominating Thursday's shakedown stage for Rallye Deutschland which takes place this weekend.
The Trier-based event is the first the new generation of World Rally Cars will have competed on asphalt and the factory DS3 WRCs were first and second quickest in the 3.6-mile test. Ogier and Loeb completed four runs of the stage, with the younger of the two Frenchmen posting a time 1.4sec faster than Loeb. Ford's Mikko Hirvonen only equaled Loeb's time on his fifth and final effort.
"I'm feeling good with the car this morning and the result of the shakedown is good for us," said Ogier, "but let's not forget the stages start tomorrow, this is the real competition."
Loeb admitted he had struggled to find feeling with the sister Citroen, saying: "The car felt a little bit nervous. I was running the hard tire and maybe we didn't get the same heat as we would get in Corsica or Spain.
"I don't think the shakedown stage was a good representation of the stages, either – the shape of the road was not helping this morning," added the 37-year-old, who has just re-signed for Citroen for another two years. "OK, I'm happy, but don't forget that Ford and Mikko were ahead of us sometime this morning. At the moment, everything is new on asphalt."
Hirvonen and his Ford teammate Jari-Matti Latvala spent a day on track with former Formula 1 star Mika Salo as part of their preparations for this event. Hirvonen said: "The car feels good and handles well. Hopefully we can push hard tomorrow. We didn't make big changes to the car today, we softened the springs which helped in conditions today, but nothing major."
Despite warnings of rain for tomorrow morning, Hirvonen hopes the current warm and dry weather will continue for the next three days.
"Sebastien [Loeb] has always been good when the grip level is changing," said Hirvonen. "I think it would be more in my favor if it stayed dry. I like the character of the roads here, but not the weather – that can be tough."
Latvala was just two tenths of a second slower than Hirvonen, having had his session interrupted by a problem with the Fiesta's handbrake. Kris Meeke was the fastest of the Minis, one second up on Dani Sordo and eighth fastest overall.