Jan Kopecky, BF Goodrich Drivers' Team man Thierry Neuville and Francois Duval all tied for the fastest time during the shakedown for the Belgium Ypres Rally on Thursday.
Kopecky, Neuville and Duval completed the 5 kilometre test in 2 minutes 49.2 seconds ahead of what is the fifth round in this year's Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
Current championship leader and Britain's Kris Meeke meanwhile was next up, along with fellow Peugeot 207 S2000 runner and local favourite, Freddy Loix.
Meeke had an interesting first run, as halfway through the test he ran slightly wide on the narrow road and broke the right-hand rear wheel.
The three-wheeled Peugeot was soon fixed though back in service and Meeke returned to the fold to set the joint 'second' best time.
"These roads really leave no margin for error," said Meeke. "You really have to be careful. I will have to be careful also if I want to remain in the race for the IRC title.
"Every driver also has 'his' rally. Kopecky has the Barum and here, Freddy is the one to watch."
Nicolas Vouilloz meanwhile rounded out the top six, his quickest effort a 2 minute 49.4 seconds, while Juho Hanninen came in seventh.
Guy Wilks, who is competing in his first IRC round with the new Proton Satria Neo S2000 finished in 15th, 6 seconds off the pace setters, and just behind Alex Bengue's Opel Corsa.
"It's the first time I've taken the car out on tarmac," noted Wilks. "and we didn't do any testing before. We can still improve."
"I don't really have any racing rhythm at the moment though as I haven't driven since last year November and it is the first time I take the Corsa out in the dry." Bengue added.
"We only held one short test in the area of Epernay, France, but unfortunately, it was raining. The objective is to gather as much data as possible for MSD. We shouldn't kid ourselves. Teams like Peugeot, Skoda and Abarth really test a lot."
The event starts 'proper' today [Friday] with six special stages around Mesen, Hollebeke and Lille-Eurometropole on the bill.