World Rally champion Sebastien Ogier enjoyed a flying start to the Wales Rally GB with victories on two of Thursday evening's three stages.
Ogier, who clinched the individual title on home soil in France at the start of last month before helping Volkswagen claim the manufacturers' title with victory in Spain last time out, triumphed on the Gwydyr and Penmachno tests to jump to the top of the leaderboard.
Ogier, who also qualified fastest in conditions made tougher by heavy rain and strong winds in the morning, is hunting a ninth rally victory of 2013 in what is the final race of the season, and fourth win in succession following his successes in Australia, France and Spain.
He boasts a 3.2second lead over the second-placed driver in the WRC classification Thierry Neuville, who won the third and final test of the evening in Clocaenog.
Jari-Matti Latvala was second fastest in the opening two stages but slipped back while finishing third in Clocaenog and that has left the Finn in third place overall, 5.2sec behind team-mate Ogier.
Latvala's compatriot Mikko Hirvonen is fourth following the stages through the Welsh forests, 16.2sec off the lead, with Norwegian duo Mads Ostberg and Andreas Mikkelsen fifth and sixth, respectively.
Formula One analyst Tony Jardine, who was partnered by Olympic gold medallist Amy Williams, finished 43rd on the first two stages before coming 42nd on the third run in Clocaenog. That has left the duo 38th overall.
It is the WRC debut for Williams after she successfully negotiated the required four national events in order to qualify as a co-driver.
The 31-year-old became Great Britain's first individual Winter Olympic champion in 30 years when she won skeleton gold in 2010.
Leading Overall positions Stage 3:
1 Sebastien Ogier (Fra) Volkswagen 14mins 28.300secs
2 Thierry Neuville (Bel) Ford 14:31.500
3 Jari-Matti Latvala (Fin) Volkswagen 14:33.500
4 Mikko Hirvonen (Fin) Citroen 14:44.500
5 Mads Ostberg (Nor) Ford 14:53.000
6 Andreas Mikkelsen (Nor) Ford 14:56.100
7 Robert Kubica (Pol) Citroen 15:03.700
8 Evgeny Novikov (Rus) Ford 15:05.800
9 Elfyn Evans (Gbr) Qatar 15:35.200
10 Martin Prokop (Cze) Ford 15:35.900