Citroen semi-privateer Urmo Aava
and Suzuki's Toni Gardemeister complete the top ten, followed by Per-Gunnar Andersson in the other SX4 WRC car, and then Ford men Andreas Mikkelsen and Matthew Wilson. Conrad Rautenbach
and Peter van Merksteijn are 14th and 15th, the latter getting his first taste of a 2007 spec Ford Focus this weekend.
In the Junior World Rally Championship category, Martin Prokop took the lead in SS2 and following the four tests the J-WRC runners drove competitively, he is 7.6 seconds up on fellow Citroen
C2 S1600 runner Sebastien Ogier.
"We had some grip problems with the tyres since the first stage this morning, but afterwards everything went well,” stated the Czech driver. “We were able to find a good rhythm on roads that we already know quite well, thanks to our victory here last year. Now we plan to maintain the same pace over the next two days of the event, in order to score the points that we need to improve our championship position."
Aaron Burkart completes the J-WRC top three, 37 seconds further back, with Renault's Gilles Schammel fourth and Florian Niegel fifth. Alessandro Bettega, Kevin Abbring and Andrea Cortinovis come in sixth, seventh and eighth.
As for retirees, Gigi Galli was the only major runner to hit problems, when he crashed out 11.3 kilometres into SS5. The Italian's Stobart
Ford Focus went off at high-speed and ended up on its roof after going into some trees.
Gigi was airlifted to hospital with a fractured left femur and is due to have an operation tonight.
His co-driver Giovanni Bernacchini was also taken to hospital. He was given the all-clear this afternoon and discharged with just cuts and bruises.
The action now continues on Saturday and the second leg comprises a mix of countryside tests in Saarland and fearsome roads in the Baumholder military training area.
After leaving Trier at 06.15 hours, drivers face two loops of four speed tests covering 159.76km before returning to the city at 19.58 hours [all times local]. The most challenging section will be two passes through the 30.38km Panzerplatte stage in Baumholder, the longest of the rally.