TEEMU Suninen was fastest during a busy shakedown at Dayinsure Wales Rally GB on Thursday morning.
The Finn, at the wheel of a Ford Fiesta, was quickest through the slippery 3.37km Clocaenog stage by 0.2sec from a trio of drivers tied in second.
Team-mates Sébastien Ogier and 2017 rally winner Elfyn Evans and Jari-Matti Latvala all stopped the clocks on the same tenth.
It was a less successful morning for man-of-the-moment Ott Tänak. The Estonian, winner of the last three rounds, had an early scare when his Toyota Yaris slid straight on under braking for a right corner and hit a bank during his first run.
He drove to the finish but returned to the Deeside service park where the cooling package was replaced after a small leak was spotted. He went back out and completed three more runs to finish last of the 11 World Rally Car drivers.
The muddy gravel roads quickly became polished and even more slippery as the morning went on and most drivers posted their fastest time on their first or second pass.
The exception was Ogier who posted his best time in his fifth run in a Fiesta. Evans and Latvala, driving a Yaris, claimed their best performance in their opening pass while Suninen’s quickest time came in his second run.
Craig Breen was fifth in a Citroën C3, just 0.1sec behind, with championship leader Thierry Neuville topping Hyundai Motorsport’s challenge in sixth, 0.4sec behind in an i20.
The leading Shakedown positions were:
1 Teemu Suninen (Ford Fiesta) 2min 01.2sec
2= Jari-Matti Latvala (Toyota Yaris) + 0.2sec
2= Elfyn Evans (Ford Fiesta) + 0.2sec
2= (Sébastien Ogier (Ford Fiesta) + 0.2sec
5. Craig Breen (Citroën C3) + 0.3sec
6. Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20) + 0.6sec
7. Mads Østberg (Citroën C3) + 0.7sec
8. Esapekka Lappi (Toyota Yaris) + 1.0sec
9. Hayden Paddon (Hyundai i20) + 1.4sec
10. Andreas Mikkelsen (Hyundai i20) + 1.9sec