Sébastien Ogier topped the timesheets on the opening stage of Rally de España as the penultimate round of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship got underway.
Ogier leads after the opening 3.2km stage in Barcelona following a fine 2m35.3s time saw him finish 3.7s ahead of championship leader Thierry Neuville.
The Frenchman said on his stage win and the rest of the Spanish event: “The rest of the weekend won’t be easy. We have a good strategy with the tyres, but now tomorrow we have a little less tyres than everyone else.”
Neuville, who’s Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai was repaired after his shakedown roll, finished second after being the last WRC car to run in the city centre stage with the Belgian finishing ahead of championship rival Ott Tänak who took third with a 3m39.5s
Fourth in Barcelona went to the second Hyundai of Andreas Mikkelsen with the second M-Sport Ford of Elfyn Evans rounding out the top 5 overall.
Eric Camilli finished sixth, 7.5s adrift of Ogier in the leading WRC2 car while Dani Sordo took seventh at the end of SS1 and Kalle Rovanperä finished eighth.
Leading Citroen driver Craig Breen and third in WRC2 Jan Kopecky completed the top 10 overall ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala and Esakpekka Lappi.
Sébastien Loeb, making his final appearance of the season this weekend, stalled on the start line and could only manage the 11th fastest WRC time with Ken Block finishing his first WRC stage in four years behind Loeb in 12th.
Camilli leads WRC2 on the first appearance in the championship for the new Volkswagen Polo R5, while the sister car driven by 2003 WRC champion Petter Solberg is fifth in class and behind Stephane Lefebvre in the Citroen C3 R5. Enrico Brazzoli leads WRC3 ahead of Taisko Lario and British driver Louis Cook.
2018 Rally de España continues this weekend until October 28.