Joint World Rally Championship leader Thierry Neuville stunned a capacity crowd in Guanajuato to take the overnight lead at the start of the 2020 Rally Mexico.
On his first pass through the short opening stage layout, Neuville's time of 59.1 seconds put him 0.4s in front of the driver with whom he shares the top of the points table, Elfyn Evans.
On his second run, Neuville cut his time to 57.5s, and although Evans also improved, the Toyota driver could not get closer than 0.7s from Neuvill's benchmark.
"With the road position on Friday, it's the only stages where we have more or less equal conditions and we can try to catch back at least a second or two," Neuville said afterwards.
"If there could be even more it would be even better for us!"
Behind the lead battle, the rest of the senior WRC field traded tenths of a second over their two runs.
Defending champion Ott Tanak emerged in third on the overall leaderboard, 1.9 seconds shy of his leading Hyundai team-mate.
Teemu Suninen led the charge from the M-Sport camp, firing his Fiesta WRC through the Guanajuato streets to end up 0.1s behind Tanak and 0.2s in front of the third works Hyundai driven by Dani Sordo.
Six-time champion Sebastien Ogier, who had been preoccupied ahead of the action with concerns for public health amid the coronavirus pandemic, went to the overnight halt in sixth place, 2.5s behind Neuville, after a relatively muted performance.
Seventh place belonged to Gus Greensmith, who survived clattering into a kerb on his first run to keep his nose ahead of Toyota's Kalle Rovanpera and Fiesta driver Esapekka Lappi, who brought up the bottom of the order.