Craig Breen remains inside the top ten at the Rally of Sweden, over a minute behind world champion Sebastien Ogier who survived hitting a tree to lead by 26.9 seconds on the first day.

Waterford native Breen, driving for the Citroen team, sits 1:19.6 off the lead going in to day two.

“I feel completely at one with this car, I feel I’ve been given a great opportunity,” said Breen on his official Facebook page.

Dungannon's Kris Meeke, meanwhile, was  in contention near the top of the leaderboard, but was forced to retire midway through the second Rojden stage following impact damage after his Citroen's DS 3 had run over a stone buried in the road. Jari-Matti Latvala and Thierry Neuville also suffered mechanical problems.

Hayden Paddon marked his debut in Hyundai's i20 by taking second ahead of Mads Ostberg's Ford Fiesta RS.

Race organisers had reduced the 21 scheduled stages to 13 after melting snow and ice meant much of the frozen course had been turned to muddy gravel, with the competitive distance cut down from 331.21 kilometres to 241.48km.

Thursday night's traditional opening super special stage had been cancelled as a result, leaving the drivers to finally take to the road on Friday with the 16km Torsby stage.

Ogier took all three of the opening morning events, as the rally crossed into Norway at Rojden and Svullrya.

However, the Frenchman lost part of the front wing from his Volkswagen Polo R having landed off course and collided with a tree, which bent a steering arm.

"There was a big, big water splash which I didn't have in my pace notes," Ogier said on www.wrc.com.

"The organisers warned us about a bump, but I couldn't turn after it and went into the trees. I got a bit lucky. I had to push hard in the snow because I knew I would lose time."

New Zealander Paddon used the later snowfall to his advantage in winning the final two stages to climb up from sixth place, some 6.08secs ahead of Ostberg.

Andreas Mikkelsen had been in second place at Svullrya before his Polo R hit a tree stump and spun out, costing him some 20 seconds.

Saturday's second leg will see five stages cover 92.25km, with two passes over the Colin's Crest jump in Vargasen and finishes with a head-to-head test at Karlstad trotting track.