Petter Solberg took an early lead in the Rally Poland by winning the Thursday evening Mikolajki superspecial.
Just as he had at his home event in Norway on the debut of his own team four months ago, Solberg recognized that the short stage offered his outdated Citroen Xsara a shot at some early glory, and pushed to the maximum.
"Not bad, not bad," said Solberg. "That was good fun. I attacked it properly and we tried hard. It looked like there was good grip in some places, but bloody hell it was slippery. But it worked well."
Sebastien Loeb holds second place, 0.3 second behind Solberg, but ended the stage worried that his Citroen C4 was beginning to overheat.
Third place is currently jointly held by Ford's Mikko Hirvonen and returnee Andreas Mikkelsen. It was a spectacular start to the young Norwegian's return to the championship in a Skoda Fabia, but Mikkelsen recognized that it will be much tougher when the rally commences in earnest tomorrow.
"It's a superspecial you have to remember, but it's a good start," he said. "I have to say it's so nice to be back in a WRC car again."
Dani Sordo (Citroen) and Henning Solberg (Stobart Ford) complete the initial top six.
Jari-Matti Latvala is back in ninth in the second works Ford and was frustrated with his performance.
"I'm not happy with my driving -- I was always too sideways and I was losing time," he said. "I was a little bit short of confidence and pushing a little bit too hard."Leading positions after SS1:
Pos Driver Car Time
1. Petter Solberg Citroen 1m48.3s
2. Sebastien Loeb Citroen + 0.3s
3. Mikko Hirvonen Ford + 1.3s
4. Andreas Mikkelsen Skoda + 1.3s
5. Dani Sordo Citroen + 1.4s
6. Henning Solberg Ford + 1.6s
7. Sebastien Ogier Citroen + 1.6s
8. Matthew Wilson Ford + 2.0s
9. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 2.4s
10. Evgeny Novikov Citroen + 2.8s