Sebastien Ogier showed no sign of easing off despite already sealing his third World Rally Championship title as he ended the first day in Barcelona on top.
The Frenchman claimed the 2015 championship last month in Australia but is eyeing up an eighth rally victory of the season in the penultimate race in Spain, where he began in style on the opening day's 3.2km street stage.
Ogier's Volkswagen finished 2.1 seconds ahead of Thierry Neuville's Hyundai, after he encountered difficulties with his handbrake, and a further 0.8 seconds in front of Volkswagen team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen, neither of whom have won a race yet in 2015.
Dungannon’s Kris Meeke's finished fourth, ahead of ex-Formula One driver Robert Kubica and Norwegian Mads Ostberg.
Meanwhile, Craig Breen sits 11th in the WRC2 class after day one in Spain.
"It's good to start like this but at the last round in Corsica we started in the lead but the rest of the weekend wasn't good," Ogier said on www.wrc.com.
"The rally really starts tomorrow but it was nice to be here in front of a huge crowd. It was a clean drive and I'm going to go for it tomorrow."
Eight gravel stages, covering 128.60km, await the drivers on Friday.