M-Sport Ford Fiesta driver Martin Prokop holds the lead on the FxPro Cyprus Rally, the twelfth and final round in the 2010 Intercontinental Rally Challenge, following the opening leg.

Overnight leader Nasser Al-Attiyah had held the advantage after six runs, despite being hindered by having to clear the loose surface stones on the gravel sections this morning. But the combination of a 10-second time penalty for a reported jump start plus two punctures on the penultimate test allowed Prokop, who is starting his first IRC event of the season, to move ahead.

Prokop's advantage now stands at 12.1s and represents a significant reversal in fortune for the Czech driver after a troubled start to the event.

He was two minutes late leaving first service to allow his mechanics to replace a broken front-left driveshaft, which failed on Thursday night's opening Lemesos Super Special Stage and was handed a 20-second penalty as a result.

He also said his choice of soft-compound tyre compromised grip on the tarmac sections and reduced traction on gravel.

"I've tried to do my best all day to make up for the penalty," Prokop said. "It was not easy to catch Nasser because he is a very fast driver but I am very pleased to be leading even though I will have to do the same tomorrow to keep Nasser behind me."

"It was not easy at the start cleaning the road but it got better for the second pass," Al-Attiyah added. "The puncture was bad luck and we had to take it easy because of this. But tomorrow is another day and I will have to push very had."

Roger Feghali meanwhile is third in the sole Skoda Fabia S2000 on the event, a remarkable feat considering the Lebanese is nursing a bent left suspension arm, which he damaged on Thursday's first stage. With no access to a spare, Feghali says he has been unable to attack due to the handling imbalance, which caused a spin on the penultimate stage shown live on Eurosport and Cypriot channel LumiereTV.

"Of course my aim was to beat these guys," said Feghali, "but to be third on my first time on gravel in this car is not bad, especially because I don't have much experience of this car. I am competing against guys in proper teams with proper budgets so I have to be happy."

Jaromir Tarabus completes a strong day for the Czech Ford National Team in fourth after reporting a trouble-free start to his Cyprus Rally. The event marks only the second time that the Fiesta driver has driven on gravel stages.

Countryman Roman Kresta completes the top five and is the first of the conventional Group N runners in his Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX. The Czech said he had adopted a conservative approach in order to preserve his car over the demanding stages, which were held in bright sunshine and in temperatures approaching 30 degrees centigrade.

Nicos Thomas is the leading Cypriot driver in sixth overall at the wheel of a Peugeot 207, the 23-year-old's first competitive outing in a Super 2000 car. After a strong start to the event, when he went third fastest on stage two, a combination of gearchange and brake woes slowed him for the rest of the morning stages to the extent he completed the bulk of stage four, where he suffered a front-left puncture, in second gear only.

Fellow Cypriot drivers Constantinos Tingirides and Charalambos Timotheou are seventh and eighth respectively in their Ralliart Lancers. Savvas Savva is ninth with Misfer Almari, the leader of the Middle East Rally Championship, which is running in tandem with the main IRC event, tenth and the top Subaru Impreza pilot.

Bryan Bouffier's hopes of victory were dashed approximately halfway through Friday's first 10.42-kilometre Kalavasos stage when he swiped a rock on the side of the road and broke his Peugeot's front-right steering arm. The Frenchman was able to reach the end of the stage after spending almost 25 minutes making repairs by the side of the road. Following more work at midday service to restore his Peugeot 207 to full working order he was able to hit back by claiming three stage wins.

ROMO Motorsporttechnik team-mate Franz Wittmann also endured a troubled day in his Interwetten Racing-backed 207. He was 10 minutes late leaving first service while his mechanics rushed to replace a damaged heat transfer unit, the legacy of a heavy landing over a jump on Thursday evening's Lemesos Super Special Stage. His challenge ended when the main bolt connecting the front-right wheel failed on stage five. He plans to return on Saturday under SupeRally regulations.

Peugeot Sport Turkey driver Burcu Cetinkaya was plagued by a persistent brake problem for much of the day while an electrical fault caused the fuel pump in Daniel Oliveira's Stohl Racing 207 to malfunction intermittently in the morning. The Brazilian had fought back to eighth place but retired six kilometres into stage six when he broke a suspension arm on a rock. A restart on day two is being planned.

Andreas Mikkelsen didn't make the start of Friday's first stage after his M-Sport Ford Fiesta suffered engine failure on the road section heading to the test. The Norwegian was one of the favourites to win the event and now must wait to see if the fitting of a replacement engine will allow him to start Sunday's Love Cyprus Golden Stage Rally.

Harry Hunt's bid to win the IRC 2WD Cup remains on course despite a scare on stage six when he slid off the road and got stuck in a ditch for two minutes. Driving an M-Sport Ford Fiesta R2, Briton Hunt was able to rejoin. Hungarian Honda Civic driver Laszlo Vizin was his closest challenger.

Saturday's leg features 122.08 competitive kilometres and gets underway at 08:06hrs local time. The first car is due to reach the finish in Limassol at 18:03hrs.

FxPro Cyprus Rally - Top ten IRC positions (after day one)

1. Martin Prokop/Jan Tomanek (M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000) 1h33m16.6s
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Giovanni Bernacchini (M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000) +12.1s
3. Roger Feghali/Joseph Matar (Skoda Fabia S2000) +57.4s
4. Jaromir Tarabus/Daniel Trunkat (M-Sport Ford Fiesta S2000) +3m22.0s
5. Roman Kresta/Petr Gross (Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX) +4m22.4s
6. Nicos Thomas/Angelos Loizides (Peugeot 207 S2000) +5m22.2s
7. Constantinos Tingirides/Panayiotis Shialos (Ralliart Lancer Evolution IX) +6m16.9s
8. Charalambos Timotheou/Pambos Laos (Ralliart Lancer Evolution X) +7m14.0s
9. Misfer Almari/Nicola Arena (Subaru Impreza N16) +7m46.5s
10. Andreas Philippou/Costas Kourtelllas (Subaru Impreza WRX) +9m56.6s