Marcus Gronholm was disappointed to see his hopes of a fairytale podium finish on his return to the World Rally Championship come to an abrupt halt when he rolled into retirement on the first stage of the day.

The Finn was well in contention with the leaders following his first day driving the Prodrive-prepared Subaru, in what was arguably the most competitive showing yet for the latest evolution Impreza.

However, despite his good road position, Gronholm got just four kilometres into the stage when he ran wide and clipped a tree, sending the car into a roll.

Although the car ended up back on its wheels, the impact had damaged the car's engine and Gronholm was forced to park up and concede retirement, much to his frustration.

"It's disappointing for me and for the team because we wanted a nice result from here," the former champion said. "I have not been rallying for a long time and coming back starting behind Seb and trying to do the same time in a new car, is not so easy. We were on the pace yesterday and pushing today and I made a small mistake."

Gronholm is unable to re-enter the event under the SupeRally regulations due to the engine damage.