Sebastien Ogier completed the first day of the World Rally Championship's return to Poland with a slender 2.8-second advantage over Andreas Mikkelsen.
The reigning champion set the quickest time on the opening stage to go 0.5s up on his Volkswagen team-mate.
But Mikkelsen went on to have a strong run through the second stage on Kruklanki and beat Ogier's time to take the rally lead.
His moment at the top of the order was short lived, however, as Ogier then claimed his second stage win during the evening's 2.50-kilometre super special in the Mikolajki Arena to reclaim his top position in the overall classification.
Kris Meeke has shown good form through the initial trio of tests and currently occupies third place overall in his Citroen DS3 WRC.
Hyundai's Juho Hanninen, who claimed only his third ever WRC stage victory on Kruklanki, is just 0.8s behind Meeke in fourth place, while Mads Ostberg completes the current top five.
Behind the Norwegian are Hyundai's Thierry Neuville and Haydon Paddon, who will need to fend off Jari-Matti Latvala during Friday's second leg.
Latvala, who topped shakedown on Thursday morning, was unable to replicate his speed when it mattered during the first two encounters and lost the best part of 20s to his team-mate and championship rival Ogier.
The Finn fared better, however, in the super special by setting the second fastest time.
Defending rally winner Mikko Hirvonen had a fairly anonymous afternoon and is ninth, ahead of Martin Prokop whose recurring back issue is causing discomfort for the Ford privateer.
Home hero Robert Kubica suffered a roll on the second stage, but was fortunate the plethora of spectators were on hand to help get him back on his way.
The former Formula 1 driver only lost 28.3s as a consequence and his M-Sport Ford Fiesta suffered only minor damage.
He was running fourth overall at the time, but now goes into the second day in 12th and 37.3s off the lead.
Leading positions after SS3: Pos Driver Car Time/Gap 1. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen 17m49.2s 2. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen +2.8s 3. Kris Meeke Citroen +7.0s 4. Juho Hanninen Hyundai +7.8s 5. Mads Ostberg Citroen +8.9s 6. Thierry Neuville Hyundai +21.1s 7. Hayden Paddon Hyundai +23.2s 8. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen +23.5s 9. Mikko Hirvonen M-Sport Ford +29.4s 10. Martin Prokop Czech Ford +31.0s