Petter Solberg posted the fastest time at qualifying for this week's Acropolis Rally, with the Ford man just 0.098sec faster than his teammate Jari-Matti Latvala.
World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb was third quickest for Citroen, 0.7sec slower than the Norwegian's benchmark. Russian Fiesta driver Evgeny Novikov was fourth fastest with Loeb's teammate Mikko Hirvonen fifth.
Solberg will now be offered the first choice of his position on the road for Friday's opening leg of the Acropolis Rally – a potentially critical decision which could go either way depending on the current changeable weather conditions in the Gulf of Corinth. Solberg reckoned he was unlikely to be at be running at the front of the field regardless of the forecast.
"I feel confident and think I will start further down [the order]," said Solberg. "It's very important to be first and, even when it's raining, it dries very quick when it stops. The best choice is to start further back for sure."
Second-fastest Latvala said his qualifying run was nearly perfect as he returned to the championship after missing Argentina with a broken collarbone.
"There was one corner when I thought I was in first but I was in second and I pulled third by mistake. The engine died just a tiny bit on the uphill but I quickly got it back," said Latvala. "We only lost a couple of tenths but after a long time out of the car this was a good boost."
The drivers all ran with the soft Michelin tire in qualifying, but felt the hard option would have worked better after the morning's rain had dried out on the 3.8-mile stage.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Petter Solberg Ford 4m11.976s
2. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 0.098s
3. Sebastien Loeb Citroen + 0.726s
4. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford + 1.042s
5. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen + 2.081s
6. Thierry Neuville Citroen Junior + 4.296s
7. Mads Ostberg Adapta Ford + 5.340s
8. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford + 6.791s
9. Martin Prokop Czech Ford + 6.903s
10. Nasser Al-Attiyah Qatar Citroen + 7.188s
11. Daniel Oliveira Brazil Ford + 14.894s
12. Armindo Araujo Portugal Mini + 16.031s
13. Paulo Nobre Portugal Mini + 38.161s