Robert Kubica led the way this morning in the shakedown for Rally Italia Sardegna, the sixth round in the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship.

Kubica went for two runs through the 4.33 kilometre Putifigari test in his M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, setting his best time on his second and final run, when he completed it in 3 minutes 35.4 seconds, leaving him 0.1 seconds up on Sebastien Ogier.

"I had quite a good feeling straight away and the grip was better than I expected," Kubica told the official WRC site. "It helped that we waited to let the others go because I'll be at the back of the start order tomorrow so there was no point in running at the front on a fresh road."

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"The recce and shakedown passed without any problems. On the whole, this year's route is more difficult and slower than last year, but that is something all the drivers must come to terms with," Ogier added.

"My main focus is on ending the rally ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala and extending my lead in the World Championship. Last year Julien [Ingrassia - my co-driver] and I won the rally, so we line up with plenty of confidence."

Jari-Matti Latvala meanwhile took third, just 0.2 seconds back in the sister Volkswagen Polo R WRC, with Henning Solberg fourth in his privately entered Fiesta RS WRC and Andreas Mikkelsne fifth.

"The shakedown gave us a good taste of what to expect, and of conditions out on the route," Latvala commented. "The character of the Rally Italy is a little different to previous years: there are more tight, winding sections.

"The soft gravel lies on top of a hard subsurface here on Sardinia, so you have to be accurate and have a good feel for the road in corners and when braking. As the route will improve from car to car, I can well imagine that the rally will be led by drivers starting well after us come the end of day one."

"Our priority in the shakedown was to prepare as well as possible for the Rally Italy," Mikkelsen continued. "Today was my first time in the cockpit alongside my new, and old, co-driver Ola Floene for over a year. Communication was really good from the very first second and felt very comfortable, although I have changed a few things in my pace notes since 2012. We will try to produce a flawless rally here. If we achieve that, we should be looking at a top-five finish."

Britain's Kris Meeke rounded out the top six in his Citroen followed by Thierry Neuville, Juho Hanninen and Mikko Hirvonen in positions 7 though to 9. Mads Ostberg and Hayden Paddon were joint tenth, with columnist Elfyn Evans twelfth.

The event now gets underway tonight with SS1, the short 1.30 kilometre Citta' Di Cagliari test, set to commence at 21.13 hours local time [20.13 hours UK time]. Competitors then tackle the first 'proper' stages on Friday.

Rally Italia Sardegna - Shakedown results (Top 12):

1. Robert Kubica RK M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC 3m 35.4s M
2. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +0m 00.1s M
3. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +0m 00.3s M
4. Henning Solberg Ford Fiesta RS WRC +0m 00.5s
5. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +0m 01.0s M
6. Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +0m 03.4s M
7. Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +0m 03.5s M
8. Juho Hanninen Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +0m 04.2s M
9. Mikko Hirvonen M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +0m 04.4s M
10. Mads Ostberg Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +0m 05.1s M
= Hayden Paddon Hyundai Motorsport N i20 WRC +0m 05.1s M
12. Elfyn Evans M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +0m 05.9s M

all times unofficial