WRC Corsica: Robert Kubica and Sebastien Ogier share the lead

Robert Kubica and Sebastien Ogier hold a joint early lead on the World Rally Championship's French round, the Tour of Corsica

WRC Corsica: Robert Kubica and Sebastien Ogier share the lead

Shakedown pacesetter Kubica's Pirelli tyres were tipped to work well on the wet asphalt that has greeted WRC crews on the championship's return to Corsica following the collapse of the previous French event in Alsace.

On the 18-mile opener Plage du Liamone - Sarrola-Carcopino, Ford privateer Kubica was slightly slower than the Volkswagens of Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala through the splits, but he reached the finish in the exact same 19m44.0s time as world champion Ogier.

Despite that performance, Kubica ended the stage "very upset" with what he described as a set-up mistake by his RK team that he felt compromised his performance.

The ex-Formula 1 driver declined to elaborate on the nature of the problem.

Latvala holds third place, 5.8s behind Kubica and Ogier, while further back, the order has been mixed up by the varying confidence levels drivers are feeling in the wet and muddy conditions.

Dani Sordo, Mads Ostberg and Elfyn Evans fared well and completed the early top six, all within 16s of the leaders.

Sordo's third place and a strong seventh for junior driver Kevin Abbring raised Hyundai's spirits after a miserable start when Thierry Neuville hit a bridge and broke his suspension just a mile into the rally, forcing him out.

Hayden Paddon struggled to find a competitive rhythm and was only 15th-fastest, nearly a minute off the pace.

Ott Tanak also lacked confidence and was only 12th, while the third VW of Andreas Mikkelsen was a muted ninth behind Kris Meeke.

Mikkelsen and Ogier both missed out on their planned pre-rally test when team-mate Latvala crashed VW's test car.

Stephane Sarrazin, the 2014 Corsica winner when the event was part of the European Rally Championship, completes the top 10 on his WRC comeback, while fellow past Corsica victor and WRC returnee Bryan Bouffier is only 14th at present.

The Corsica itinerary features only nine stages - three per day - and most of them between 20 and 30 miles in length.

But the Friday itinerary has already been reduced to just two stages, with torrential rain causing flooding and landslides on and around the Casamozza - Ponte Leccia stage that was scheduled to start the afternoon loop. That stage is also due to be used on Saturday.

The rally will therefore resume with SS3, Francardo - Sermano, at 2.47pm local time, although AUTOSPORT understands this is also in doubt due to the conditions on the route to the stage.

STANDINGS AFTER SS1:

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Robert Kubica fastest in Tour de Corse WRC shakedown

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