Jari-Matti Latvala will lead into leg two of the Wales Rally GB, with Sebastien Loeb in second and Per-Gunnar Andersson holding an excellent third for Suzuki after a disrupted opening day.
Today's mileage was drastically reduced due to the wintry weather conditions in Wales, with icy surfaces forcing the cancellation of the Hafren stage (SS1 and SS4), and shortened distances for the Sweet Lamb and Myherin stages. That meant the competitors only covered 49.7 timed kilometres, rather than the planned 123km.
The leg-ending Walters Arena superspecials were then delayed by nearly an hour after Chris Atkinson crashed out of sixth place at the first corner, heavily damaging his Subaru Impreza and causing a long pause while the stage was cleared.
Atkinson has been taken to hospital for precautionary checks, but the team report that he is unhurt, while his co-driver Stephane Prevot escaped unscathed.
Ford driver Latvala completed the day's full-length stages 11 seconds clear of Loeb (Citroen), and then extended his advantage slightly in Walters Arena, although Loeb pulled a little time back in the second run.
But despite Latvala's lead, his Ford team's chances of claiming a third consecutive manufacturers' title now look slim as his teammate Mikko Hirvonen currently languishes outside the top 30 having rolled his car in Sweet Lamb 2.
Ford entered the weekend 11 points behind Citroen, and with the latter squad's Loeb and Dani Sordo currently second and sixth - and having been instructed to prioritise the teams' title over rally victory - the French team appear well-placed to reclaim manufacturers' honours after two successive Ford championships.
Behind the top two, Andersson and Adapta Subaru driver Mads Ostberg are just 1.5 seconds apart in their battle for third place. Both have run with the leaders all day, with Ostberg holding second place until spinning in frustration as he struggled with a misted windscreen in SS6.
He took third back from Andersson in the first run through Walters Arena, but the Suzuki driver reclaimed the position when they tackled the stage for the second time a few minutes later.
Petter Solberg is in fifth in the remaining works Subaru, ahead of Sordo, Stobart Ford's Francois Duval, and the day's star performer Sebastien Ogier. The Junior champion led his first three stages in a World Rally Car, before an electrical glitch cost him half a minute in Myherin 2.
Stobart Ford duo Henning Solberg and Matthew Wilson complete the current top ten.
Valentino Rossi, also driving a Stobart Ford, is three minutes adrift of the leaders and just outside the top 20, having improved his pace as he acclimatised to the treacherous conditions on a day of ice, rain and even hailstorms in Wales.
Leading positions after day one:
Pos Driver Car Time 1. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford 31:20.5 2. Sebastien Loeb Citroen + 12.9 3. Per-Gunnar Andersson Suzuki + 22.5 4. Mads Ostberg Subaru + 24.0 5. Petter Solberg Subaru + 27.4 6. Dani Sordo Citroen + 32.2 7. Francois Duval Ford + 52.0 8. Sebastien Ogier Citroen + 54.8 9. Henning Solberg Ford +1:04.7 10. Matthew Wilson Ford +1:33.0