Gap, France - French driver Bryan Bouffier snatched the lead in the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally on Thursday after world champion Sebastien Ogier blundered on tyre choice.
Ford Fiesta driver Bouffier, the 2011 winner in the principality, leads Britain's Kris Meeke in a Citroen with Poland's ex-Formula One star Robert Kubica, in another Ford Fiesta, in third spot.
Ogier paid a price for a poor tyre choice on the morning stages, but had risen to fourth from ninth by the end of the first day in his Volkswagen Polo.
However, he was still over 47 seconds off the lead having started the day on super-slick tyres which saw his car crash into a wall on the opening stage.
“It was a real Monte Carlo Rally, with the rain, snow, the fog,” said Bouffier.
“It's also really satisfying to finish the first day in first place as a privateer entry up against factory teams,” he said.
“But we are very lucky to be here. We hit a bridge on the very first corner of the first stage. I thought our race was over.”