Thierry Neuville will carry a 1.1 seconds advantage into Friday’s action on Rally Mexico ahead of championship rival Elfyn Evans.
Belgian driver Neuville was quickest through both passes of the Guanajuato city centre stage ahead of Toyota driver Evans with defending champion Ott Tänak in third, 0.8 seconds further adrift.
A relatively uneventful start to the event for the leading drivers in front of a large crowd saw Teemu Suninen take fourth going into Friday’s ten stages, just 0.1 seconds slower than Estonian Tänak with Dani Sordo completing the top five overall.
Winner here last year Sebastien Ogier could only manage two times fast enough to sit sixth, although is only a total of 2.5 seconds behind leader Neuville.
The WRC runners are rounded out by Gus Greensmith, Kalle Rovanperä and Esapekka Lappi after Thursday’s action, although both M-Sport Ford drivers clipped a wall during their first runs through the 1.12km stage.
Oliver Solberg was the fastest R5 driver by 0.8 seconds ahead of series returnee Pontus Tidemand with WRC2 rival Ole Christian Veiby 0.3 seconds further behind.
Ken Block, who returns to the WRC paddock in a Ford Escort Cosworth this weekend, struggled through both stages with a misfire.
Tomorrow in Mexico sees 10 more stages totalling 132.86km.