Hyundai's Thierry Neuville and Ford driver Mads Ostberg have recorded equal fastest times on the opening stage of WRC Portugal with Kiwi Hayden Paddon the next fastest.

Hyundai driver Paddon posted the third fastest time on the short 3.36km opening test to give him some confidence ahead of the first full day of action overnight. The 30-year-old needs a big opening day if he wants to earn a good road position for the weekend and fight for a rally win.

He had earlier been happy with his car's performance in the pre-event shakedown.

Paddon will have every opportunity to fight for a win with the Hyundai World Rally Team employing a clear philosophy around team strategy. Neuville is in the fight for the world championship while the team is clearly targeting a manufacturer's title but Paddon believes they'll allow him every opportunity to win.


"The team's main priority is the manufacturer's championship so basically as each rally develops, once they can see how the positions are looking, then maybe there will be instructions come in to hold position or to push depending on how the three cars are going.

"That is a strategy that is looked upon as the rally progresses."

Elfyn Evans (DMACK Ford), Dani Sordo (Hyundai) and Sebastien Ogier (M-Sport Ford) completed the top six.