Jari-Matti Latvala led the way through the qualifying stage for the fourth round of the World Rally Championship in Portugal and will now have the advantage of being first to choose his road position for the first day of the event.
The Ford driver went through the 4.96-kilometre stage with a time of 3min 01.884secs, which was good enough to beat team-mate Petter Solberg to top spot by just over 1.7secs.
Ford will now discuss its options for road position for the first set of stages before the drivers are forced to chose their starting slot, with the opening loop of stages on Thursday being run in the dark.
“The car was feeling good but you have to remember we are still very early in the rally,” Latvala said. “For the road position we might start way behind and take the risk for dust at night.”
Mikko Hirvonen was third quickest for Citroen ahead of his team-mate Sebastien Loeb, with M-Sport duo Ott Tanak and Evgeny Novikov completing the top six. Dani Sordo, in his revised MINI John Cooper Works WRC, was seventh.
The stage didn't pass without drama for some drivers however, with Nasser Al-Attiyah losing time when he missed a junction and Paulo Nobre rolling his MINI towards the end of the stage and arriving at the finish on foot.