Petter Solberg took the early Rally Argentina lead as Ford dominated the Thursday evening superspecial that kicked off the event.
On a cold and wet evening, Citroen's choice of hard tyres proved to be a significant disadvantage, with works drivers Sebastien Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen ending the 6.04-kilometre stage back in eighth and 11th places respectively, both over 10 seconds off the lead.
Ford went for soft tyres and swept the top five positions, with factory driver Solberg leading his temporary team-mate Dani Sordo - substituting for the injured Jari-Matti Latvala - by 3.6s.
Portugal winner Mads Ostberg (Adapta) completed the top three, ahead of M-Sport duo Ott Tanak and Evgeny Novikov.
Citroen's lead runner is currently its Junior team driver Thierry Neuville in sixth place, while Volkswagen has both its S2000 Skoda Fabias inside the top 10 - as Sebastien Ogier holds seventh and Andreas Mikkelsen sits 10th, behind Armindo Araujo's Team Portugal Mini.
Nasser Al-Attiyah had a spin on the stage and is back in 13th in the Qatar Citroen.
The full-length stages commence on Friday morning.
Leading positions after SS1:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Petter Solberg Ford 4m54.9s
2. Dani Sordo Ford + 3.6s
3. Mads Ostberg Adapta Ford + 4.8s
4. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford + 5.2s
5. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford + 5.2s
6. Thierry Neuville Citroen Junior + 5.6s
7. Sebastien Ogier VW Skoda + 8.0s
8. Sebastien Loeb Citroen + 10.2s
9. Armindo Araujo Portugal Mini + 11.7s
10. Andreas Mikkelsen VW Skoda + 12.7s