Sebastien Ogier has taken an early lead in the Rally Australia after the two Thursday evening superspecials that opened the new-look event.
The Citroen Junior driver was quickest by 3.5 seconds as the field made two runs around the 2.5-kilometre Tweed stage on the streets of Murwillumbah.
Although the asphalt stage – on which the drivers used the gravel tyres that they will run with all weekend – bears little relation to the fast forest stages that will be used for the majority of the event, Ogier reckons his strong start bodes well.
"I'm confident," he said. "It's a new rally for everybody so it's a good opportunity for us to fight for a good result."
Henning Solberg was second quickest for Stobart Ford, ahead of the two factory Citroens of Sebastien Loeb and Dani Sordo.
The works Fords of Jari-Matti Latvala and Mikko Hirvonen complete the initial top six, with Latvala admitting he was relieved to get tonight's short stages out of the way as his error on the Rally Poland superspecial continues to haunt him.
"I'm satisfied – no mistakes at all," Latvala said at the end of Tweed. "It was a bit slippy the first time, but we had a clean run. Now the confidence is improving. I was quite nervous before this stage, but once we've done this one it's easier to go to the gravel."
Leading positions after SS2:
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Sebastien Ogier Citroen 3m35.1s
2. Henning Solberg Ford + 3.5s
3. Sebastien Loeb Citroen + 4.3s
4. Dani Sordo Citroen + 5.0s
5. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 5.1s
6. Mikko Hirvonen Ford + 8.1s
7. Matthew Wilson Ford + 13.3s
8. Federico Villagra Ford + 13.5s
9. Khalid Al Qassimi Ford + 16.4s
10. Conrad Rautenbach Citroen + 19.8s