Northern Ireland's Kris Meeke won the opening stage of Wales Rally GB as heavy rain made for testing conditions at Oulton Park.
Meeke (Toyota Yaris) finished the 3.58-kilometre special stage 2.1 seconds ahead of Belgium's Thierry Neuville in his Hyundai i20.
"It was dark, slippery and tricky and in those conditions on a race circuit it was like ice," Meeke said.
"There are no points for today, so let's try to have a good weekend."
Former world champion Petter Solberg, who is competing in his last rally before retirement, topped the leaderboard for much of the evening before being overhauled by Meeke and Neuville.
The 44-year-old Norwegian finished 3.3secs off the lead in third, 0.5secs ahead of reigning world champion Sebastien Ogier.
Waterford's Craig Breen (Hyundai) lies 11th overnight, 8.2secs behind the overall leader.
Championship leader Ott Tanak could only manage the 12th fastest time, losing 8.8secs to team-mate Meeke after stalling his car at a hairpin.
"The engine stopped," the Estonian said.
"I had no lights, they were pointing to the top of the trees and I completely missed the corner."