BP Ford Abu Dhabi's Francois Duval edged out Sebastien Loeb to set the pace on Thursday in the Rallye de France-Tour de Corse shakedown.
Duval completed the 6.10 kilometre stage from Capo di Feno to Saint Antoine in 3 minutes 44.9 seconds, 0.2 seconds up on pre-event favourite and local hero, Sebastien Loeb.
"My Ford Focus RS WRC was sliding a lot in Spain, but we still managed to go quite quickly. Here, on what is a much more abrasive surface, I hope to raise my game and see if we stand any chance of winning," said the Belgian. "The weather seems a bit uncertain, but I think that tricky conditions could work in our favour."
Loeb meanwhile was largely happy with his final preparations for the thirteenth round in the World Rally Championship: "Everything went well with the exception of one thing - the steering was slightly out. But that is easily fixed," he added.
"This morning's shakedown was just to check that all the systems were working properly, as there is not a lot of meaningful information we can learn for the rally by running on soft tyres."
Dani Sordo was next up, third in the other 'works' Citroen C4 WRC, followed by Mikko Hirvonen and Urmo Aava.
"It was good to get back into the rhythm of Corsica again," said Dani. "My feeling with the car is actually better than it was in Catalunya as you notice the grip straight away, which is much more than we had in Spain. We also ran on soft tyres this morning and tried a few different things with the set-up."
"On paper, it's hard to expect to beat Sebastien Loeb here," Mikko admitted. "But we can't just settle for finishing behind the Citroens. It took me a little while to get up to speed in Spain but I got there in the end.
"The abrasive surface here in Corsica should be better suited to our car than the asphalt in Catalunya. We need to be quick straight out of the box here, in order to see if we can fight for victory."
Further down the order Ford privateer Andreas Mikkelsen was sixth, with the Subaru's of Petter Solberg and Brice Tirabassi seventh and eighth.