Alexey Lukyanuk is on course to claim another Rally Islas Canarias victory as he leads at the end of the first day.
Lukyanuk won hear last year and is on course to make it two wins in two years on the second round of the European Rally Championship.
The Ford driver holds a 25 second lead over round one winner Bruno Magalhães in his hired Skoda Fabia R5, with last year’s champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz just two seconds further back in third.
Lukyanuk was fastest on each stage of the day but a sensational charge through stage four transformed the Russian’s narrow 2.5 second lead to 20 seconds advantage.
While this was in part due to nearest rival Kajetanowicz suffering brake problems, Lukyanuk’s lead could have been bigger, for he was penalised 10 seconds for jumping the start on stage two.
Kajetanowicz’s brake problems also allowed championship leader Magalhães to take advantage and took second position on stage five, but holds a slight 2.2 second lead over the Pole’s Fiesta R5.
“It’s been a good day,” said Lukyanuk.
“I’m trying to be smart and not push too hard. But Bruno is showing his speed and finding his rhythm and will be tough competitor.
“The pacenotes are very precise and it is pure joy driving this car on the Pirelli tyres.”
Kajetanowicz, who finished second behind Lukyanuk on last year’s event, said: “It’s big applause to him, that was an amazing time.
“We are driving well but not perfect. I need to improve the set-up and my head.”
Magalhães, who only received the funding to take part a week before the event, described the event as one one of the best days of his career.
“I came here without one kilometre in this car on asphalt so to be fighting with Kajto is like a dream and something I didn’t expect,” he added.
“I have to thank my team and my sponsors for this.”
Behind the top three is, Spanish Hyundai driver Iván Ares is fourth and top ERC Junior Under 28 Championship contender Peugeot Rally Academy’s Pepe López, in fifth on his Rally Islas Canarias debut.
Bryan Bouffier‘s day was hampered by brake issues and is ninth place, a minute off the lead.
In the ERC Junior U27 standings Chris Ingram holds a 23.3 second lead over Opel team-mate Jari Huttunen, despite his Opel Adam R2 refusing to start from the service area to head to the beginning of the second group of stages.
The problem, which Ingram blamed on overheating issues, meant that the Briton was only 10 seconds away from receiving time penalties when he arrived to start stage four.
Ingram’s progress was helped by the retirement of team-mate Aleks Zawada who stopped on the final stage.
Peugeot’s Catie Munnings is the last of the classified U27 runners, seven and a half minutes down on Ingram.
In ERC2 category for Group N cars, Tibor Érdi Jr in his new Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X holds a commanding minute lead ahead of Russian Sergey Remennik, who is competing on his first ever tarmac rally.
Azores winner Luís Pimentel was forced to retire with a broken transmission.