Sébastien Ogier began his Rally Spain in fine style by setting the fastest time in the shakedown.
He was a tenth of a second faster than Hyundai’s local hero Dani Sordo, with closest title rival, VW team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen, a second back in third.
The Frenchmen could clinch his fourth successive world championship on this event if he finishes better than third.
The third VW driver, Jari-Matti Latvala, clocked the sixth fastest time on the 2.97-kilometre route, two seconds slower than his French team-mate.
The only mixed surface round of the World Rally Championship’s (WRC), the Rally Spain shakedown gravel test proved to be a slippery affair.
Overnight rain had softened up the route and if it remains wet for Friday’s gravel stages, it could benefit those opening the route, as Ogier noticed.
“The conditions are not easy, thanks to the rain, but that could actually mean that it is an advantage for me to open the route this time.”
While Ogier is looking to win, for the championship’s stake he will not be taking any chances, especially after crashing out on the power stage on last year.
“As at every rally, we are here to win, but we have a great chance of winning our fourth world championship title. That would be a fantastic success, so, if the situation so warrants, we will obviously not risk everything.
“Whatever happens, I can assure the fans that I have learnt from my crash on the Power Stage last year. “
His main rival Mikkelsen is more interested in finishing ahead of Thierry Neuville’s Hyuandi in the race to finish second in the title.
“We want to finish ahead of Neuville here, in order to increase our lead over him in the battle for second place. That is what we are focusing on.”
The Rally Spain kicks off on Thursday evening with the exciting “Barcelona” special stage at the foot of Montjuïc.