Sebastién Ogier topped the times in the shakedown test for the 2016 Kennards Hire Rally Australia.
The four-time World Rally Champion set a 3.01 out of his three runs and was a tenth quicker than Volkswagen team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen over the five kilometre stage.
Being first on the road, Ogier was amazed at the effect cleaning the road but was thankful that the gap between cars wasn’t so great.
“It’s such an incredible cleaning effect we have seen this morning,” he said.
“By our calculations it is between 0.2sec – 0.3sec per car per kilometre faster.
“It’s always difficult here but during the recce a lot of people said it was even worse than previous years. I didn’t expect so much.”
DMACK World Rally Team driver Ott Tänak was third fastest, +0.8 seconds off the leader. The Estonian’s hoping to carry the impressive performance that he showed in Wales over to New South Wales.
Behind him were the Hyundai’s of Thierry Neuville and Hayden Paddon who set identical times to be joint fourth, with Jari-Matti Latvala in sixth, a second slower than his team-mates.
The two M-Sport Fords followed, with Eric Camilli outpacing more the experienced Mads Østberg, with Hyundai’s Dani Sordo rounding out the works boys in ninth.
In WRC2 Peru’s Nicolás Fuchs was quickest in his Škoda Fabia R5, three-tenths quicker than Esapekka Lappi who only did one run.
Their nearest challenger was the Peugeot 208 T16 of Hubert Ptaszek who was seven seconds off the pace of the two Škodas.
The only runner in the WRC3 category, Michel Fabre set a time of 3.49 in his Citroen DS3 R3T.
After this afternoon’s ceremonial start, the rally begins tomorrow with 120.61 kilometres of special stages, beginning with the 7.88km run through Utungun on Friday 18 November 2016.