Sebastien Loeb's defence of his 2010 Rallye de France victory began in the perfect fashion with joint fastest time on this morning shakedown stage - although he shared the time with team-mate and arch rival Sebastien Ogier.
Spaniard Dani Sordo offered a further demonstration the asphalt potential of the Mini with a time just two tenths slower than Citroen's benchmark.
The drivers were quick to point out, however, that the 1.46-mile run around the Parc des Sports car park in Strasbourg was unrepresentative of the route facing them in the next three days.
Run in bright sunshine with temperatures rising to 23 degrees, Loeb and Ogier complete four runs each at the stage, with both drivers posting their joint fastest time on the final effort.
Jari-Matti Latvala was the fastest Ford , eight tenths of a second slower than the Frenchmen, while Petter Solberg was fifth quickest a second down. Britain's Kris Meeke was sixth in the second factory Mini, with his countryman Matthew Wilson ninth in his Fiesta.
Ott Tanak was quickest Super 2000, setting a time of 1m53.8s. Double World Touring Car Champion and local hero Yvan Muller (Peugeot 207 S2000) was third fastest of the S2000 cars, completing his sixth and final run at the stage in a time of 1m55.7s.