Kris Meeke has criticized the organizers of Rally GB for the decision to run Thursday afternoon's Clocaenog stage in fading light.
Meeke was annoyed at what he saw as the unfair advantage the drivers at the front of the field enjoyed driving through the event's opening stage in brighter conditions. The Mini driver was running 12th on the road and began the test 24 minutes later than Sebastien Loeb, the first car through. Loeb began the stage at 4:24 p.m.
"When will these organizers learn?" said Meeke. "All we're after here is a level playing field. What was worse was that it wasn't fully dark for us, that would have been better.
"We had the lights on, then off, then on. Then we had the fog coming and we were lifting off because we couldn't see a thing. I don't see why the stage wasn't started when it was light for us all or dark for us all.
"I'm not saying I wouldn't have been on the pace of the boys at the front, but it would have been nice to have the chance. It's just so bloody frustrating."
Meeke wasn't the only British driver struggling in the dark. Matthew Wilson's run through stage three was compromised when the left-front spot light came adrift of his Stobart Ford Fiesta. The light spun around and sat on the bonnet facing the Englishman.
"That wasn't the best of starts," said Wilson. "We did about six kilometers with the light sat on the bonnet just facing straight at me. I couldn't see anything in left-handers, I was blinded by the light. It would have been much better if the lamp had come straight off, but the wires kept it connected."
Meeke ended the opening day in fifth place, while Wilson was four places farther back in ninth.
Rally GB route coordinator Andrew Kellitt said: "There are many political considerations about when we run the stages; it was very important to have the cars in Conwy at the time they were tonight. The crowds out there showed how well this worked.
"I understand the frustration, but this is the way it works sometimes. We have to run the event to a very tight time schedule and it has to get dark for somebody."