Skoda drivers Juho Hanninen and Andreas Mikkelsen set the joint fastest time in shakedown for Rally Azores, round six of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, which gets under way this afternoon.
Hanninen's Skoda teammate Jan Kopecky was third quickest, with Guy Wilks the fastest Peugeot 207 driver in fourth overall.
"We're pretty happy with everything so far – it's important to have a good start," said Mikkelsen, who spent shakedown fine-tuning the setup of his Skoda UK entry.
Last year's winner Bruno Magalhaes was fifth quickest in his Peugeot Sport Portugal 207, which has a new engine after the original failed on last month's Ypres Rally. Former Junior World Rally champion Patrik Sandell completed the top six in his Skoda Sweden Fabia with Julien Maurin seventh quickest in his Ford Fiesta.
Toshi Arai was ninth in his R4-specification Subaru Impreza, one place ahead of Vitor Lopes in a conventional Group N Impreza. Lopes experienced a minor delay when he suffered a front-left puncture.
Today's action consists of three gravel stages close to Ponta Delgada, where the weather is currently warm but overcast.