Kris Meeke holds the early lead after two stages of Rally Sanremo, which has begun in tricky, partially-damp conditions
The reigning Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion has a 1.8-second advantage over local specialist and fellow Peugeot 207 driver Paolo Andreucci.
The Italian moved up to second by winning SS2, pushing points leader Juho Hanninen's Skoda back to third and returnee Giandomenico Basso's Abarth to fourth. Fellow Punto driver Luca Rossetti is sixth behind Peugeot's Bryan Bouffier.
Freddy Loix, three times a winner already on his guest appearances for Skoda this year, admitted he had driven badly on SS1, but was second behind Andreucci on SS2, so moved up from ninth to seventh, just ahead of Skoda UK driver Guy Wilks.
Hanninen's team-mate and main title rival Jan Kopecky has made a cautious start - mindful of his early crash here in 2009 - and is only ninth. With the times all very close so far though, he is still within 14.8s of the lead.
Umberto Scandola completes the top 10 in the best of the Fords, but fellow Fiesta driver Andreas Mikkelsen is already out, having slid off the road on the first stage.
Gilles Panizzi is hoping set-up changes at service will get his Proton closer to the pace. The big-name returnee is only 22nd at present, 49.4s off the lead and finding the Satria "difficult to drive." His team-mate Niall McShea retired with a technical problem on the way to stage one.
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