New Zealand's Hayden Paddon has had a solid opening leg of WRC Rally Poland to be fifth at the end of a wet day.

The Hyundai works driver was hoping for dry conditions, where he could have made the most of his position of eighth on the road, but heavy rain turned that position into a disadvantage as the road cut-up and became more slippery for the latter runners.

The bad luck continues in a season where he just can't seem to take a trick.

He took it easy and safely negotiated trying conditions to be 39.6s off the lead, held by teammate Thierry Neuville.

Advertisement

"Yes, we're happy enough with our day," said Paddon.

"It was always going to be trying with the wet, muddy conditions - our road position was always going to be a bit of a disadvantage especially on the morning loop.

"We struggled a bit, and just did all we could and kept the car on the road. It was very, very slippery.

"Then in the afternoon, we knew it was going to be more even. We made some setup changes to the car which helped me to gain a bit of confidence and we were much more competitive. So we can be content with that.

"To be in the top five and not far off fourth and maybe see what the guys up front do, a podium is still possible this weekend.

"Looking forward to hopefully improving conditions tomorrow and should be more enjoyable to drive.

"Mission accomplished for today and now tomorrow's a whole new game. We'll try and lift it up a bit and climb the leaderboard."

Belgian Neuville held a narrow 1.3s lead over M-Sport Ford driver Ott Tanak while Toyota's Jari-Matti Latvala was only 6.6s off the lead making it a three-way fight at the front.

Four-time world champion and current series leader Sebastien Ogier was fourth 35.1s off the pace while Paddon was chipping away at Ogier and was only 4.5s further back.

Toyota's Esapekki Lappi was the only major casualty of the day, who retired with damaged suspension sustained when he cut a corner.

Other drivers to run into problems were Citroen pair Andreas Mikkelsen and Craig Breen as well as DMACK Ford driver Elfyn Evans, though all three were still running.

Day 1 Standings
1. Thierry Neuville (Hyundai)
2. Ott Tänak (Ford) +1.3sec
3. Jari-Matti Latvala (Toyota) +6.6sec
4. Sebastien Ogier (Ford) +35.1sec
5. Hayden Paddon (Hyundai) +39.6sec
6. Dani Sordo (Hyundai) +51.7sec