Andreas Mikkelsen kicked off the weekend that will see him officially crowned as the final Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion by setting the pace on stage one in Cyprus
With Skoda opting not to enter Juho Hanninen and Jan Kopecky for the season finale, reigning champion Mikkelsen's points lead is unassailable.
The Norwegian was quickest by 4.4 seconds on the Pafos street stage that kicked off the last rally in IRC history.
Production Cup driver Jarkko Nikara upstaged the rest of the Super 2000 pack with second place in his Subaru.
World Rally regular and 2010 Cyprus winner Nasser Al-Attiyah and double Production WRC champion Toshi Arai share fourth place, closely followed by series returnee Sepp Wiegand in the Skoda Deutschland Fabia.
The rally proper kicks off on Saturday morning with the first of 12 gravel stages.
The fifth Intercontinental Rally Challenge was the best yet, and it was Skoda UK driver Andreas Mikkelsen who emerged as champion from a tense five-way shootout at the season finale. Matt Beer reviews the season