Andreas Aigner leads following day one of the 'Rally of Nations' event, being run to cover Mexico's absence from this year's World Rally Championship calendar.

Aigner, who won the Production Car World Rally Championship last year, ended Friday's opening leg 31.1 seconds up on his fellow countryman, Manfred Stohl. Stohl had been on top but he slipped back to second when he had problems during the Scotiabank Super Special.

"The day has been good, we had no major problems," said Aigner. "The first stages were difficult because the road was very slippery and I was the first on the road, but the afternoon was fine."

Despite lying one-two though, Team Austria is only third in the Nations competition, 57.5 points behind Team Spain, which has 448.5 points on the board.

Spain's Dani Sola and Xavier Pons both went extremely well in the morning, but issues in the afternoon dropped them to fifth and eighth respectively. Sola lost time with a puncture, while Pons went off in SS5.

"The truth is that we did really well in the morning, we were in the lead and Spain won the first four stages, but in the afternoon we had a flat and Xavi had a problem with the oil radiator," Sola explained.

"As for the time, we are not in the first positions because we had to change the flat. With regards to points, we are ahead, which is the most important thing. Now we need to check the car so that we can give more tomorrow."

Meanwhile Didier Auriol and Brice Tirabassi ended day one third and fourth for France, although both are around a minute off P1.

Mark Wallenwein had a quiet but steady day and climbed to sixth, ahead of Sweden's Per-Gunnar Andersson, who was penalised 30 seconds for arriving three minutes late at the start of SS4.

"The stages were good, but we had a few problems with the car," stated Andersson. "We lost some power on the engine and that cost us many minutes. I hope tomorrow will be better."

There were a number of retirements, most noticeably Toni Gardemeister and Harri Rovanpera, both sidelined by steering problems, the latter out before even starting SS1.

"Today it was really bad for us," said Gardemeister. "Our car had a steering problem and it broke down in the sixth stage."

"A steering arm broke before the first stage, and that was it for me," added Rovanpera. "I don't know what happened, but we were very lucky that it broke before the stages, when we were going at only 20 km/hour.

"If that had happened at full speed, on the first turn, it would have been catastrophic."

The action now continues on Saturday with another eight stages on the bill - and around 148 competitive kilometres.



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