Petter Solberg heads a three-way scrap for fourth following the opening day of the Rallye de France-Tour de Corse - and the Norwegian was pleasantly surprised by his Impreza WRC2008.

Petter managed to leapfrog both Stobart Ford 'guest' driver Jari-Matti Latvala and his team-mate Chris Atkinson in the final stage of the day, just like he did at the end of the morning loop, to jump up into P4.

It wasn't all plain sailing though for the 2003 World champion, and he survived what he described as a 'huge moment' in the morning in the first run through the 7.42 kilometre Arbellara-Aullene test.

"I'm very happy with the last stage today actually," said 'Hollywood'. "We made some changes in the service and they didn't work at all so we lost two places. But then we went back again and I made some more changes the other way on the road section before the last stage and the car got better and better.

"The car is definitely running better on the surface here. On the smooth stages like the first today we lose a bit of time, but on the others where it's more abrasive it's much better grip.

"We'll make a change again and see what we can do on the stages tomorrow."

Despite losing out to Petter in SS6 however, Latvala and Atkinson both remain right on his tail, just 1.2 seconds and 2.7 seconds respectively adrift.

"I have been pleased with today and it seems that even though I have been improving my pace during the day, the other guys have as well and now we are in a really exciting battle for fourth," said Jari-Matti.

"The stages have been tricky today with a fair bit of gravel on the stages and I have really been trying hard to work on my lines and improve my driving here. I'm very happy because my gap to the leaders now after the first day is much less than in Spain."

"We are in a close battle with Petter and Jari-Matti and considering we're in the same car as Petter and he's won this rally before, I can't complain," Atkinson added. "I think the set-up works ok and we had some good stages, but the last stage wasn't so good. We lost some time at the end of the stage where something changed. I was all over, using all the road.

"At one stage we were up to fourth, then with the problem at the end with not being able to carry the speed we dropped back to sixth. It's good to be able to fight though, and for sure it makes it more interesting during the day, but we want to be fighting for first..."