Belgian Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) set the fastest time on Thursday evening in the first special of the Finland Rally, 8th out of 13 rounds in the WRC World Rally Championship, ahead of another Hyundai driver, Estonian Ott Tänak.
Two other Toyotas follow, that of the Japanese Takamoto Tatsuta ahead of the current championship leader, the Finnish Kalle Rovanperä.
Contested in a wooded park in the town of Jyväskylä, epicenter of the rally, this short 3.5 kilometer special, the only one on this first day, was above all a warm-up for the competitors. They will play 21 more by Sunday, competing over 323 kilometers of timed courses.
Neuville, current runner-up to Rovanperä in the championship but already relegated 83 points behind the leader, was ahead of Tänak by 1.2 seconds and Katsuta by 2.6 seconds. Rovanperä is just behind at 2.7 seconds.
A public hero, the 21-year-old Finn has already won five rallies this season and dominates the championship.
Competitors will start Friday for the 2nd special at 07:00 am local time (08:00 French time) and will contest 9 in total during the day.