Local star Elfyn Evans grabbed a handy lead while Kiwi Hayden Paddon finished the first full day of Wales Rally GB in ninth place.
Welshman Evans opened up a 24.6s second lead over the six stages in his DMACK Ford Fiesta overnight as he headed off M-Sport duo Ott Tanak and championship leader Sebastien Ogier.
Ogier remained on track to claim his fifth straight world championship with a careful run on the wet and muddy roads.
Paddon struggled running 10th on the road and will have some work to do to make up ground over the weekend. He was 1:22.9s behind Evans and trailed all three of his Hyundai teammates.
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"Wales Rally GB is a great rally, but it has certain particularities that you need to deliver against in order to be quick," the 30-year-old said. "First, you need absolutely bags of confidence and to be completely comfortable in the car. We always seem to struggle with understeer on the opening day, so we were mentally prepared for that, but it held us back today.
"The conditions were tricky, as you'd expect in Wales, but I'd almost have preferred it to be raining. We changed the settings for the afternoon loop but the conditions changed as well, so it's a bit of a moving target.
"Tomorrow is, of course, another day and I hope we can enjoy it a bit more."
Citroen driver Craig Breen went off the road in the final stage of the day and was left stuck in the stage.
A total of 14 further stages await drivers over the next two days.
1. Elfyn Evans (DMACK Ford)
2. Ott Tanak (M-Sport Ford) +24.6s
3. Sebastien Ogier (M-Sport Ford) +26.8s
4. Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) +37.1s
5. Jari-Matti Latvala (Toyota) +41.9s
6. Kris Meeke (Citroen) +42.0s
7. Andreas Mikkelsen (Hyundai) +52.0s
8. Dani Sordo (Hyundai) +1:13.9s
9. Hayden Paddon (Hyundai) 1:22.9s
10. Juho Hanninen (Toyota) 1:43.5s