Kris Meeke continued where he left off 12 months ago by winning the pre-event shakedown for Rally Mexico.
Meeke, who triumphed at this third round of the FIA World Rally Championship in dramatic circumstances in 2017, topped the times through the 5.31km Llano Grande test in his Citroën C3 by 0.4sec.
Championship leader Thierry Neuville was second in a Hyundai i20 with a tying Sébastien Ogier (Ford Fiesta) and Ott Tänak (Toyota Yaris) completing the top three in hot and dusty conditions a further 1.4sec back.
"We had a productive shakedown this morning and I felt comfortable in my C3 WRC," Meeke said.
"This is an event where we were able to produce a solid performance last year and I have felt good since we arrived here in Mexico. Even in recce, I enjoyed driving through these stages again. It was nice to see a bit sun after two winter rallies.
The media descend on Sebastien Loeb prior to Rally Mexico and his return to the WRC.
"I hope the feeling will be the same in the race, but you must bear in mind that this is an event where you have to remain alert to make sure you don't get caught out by something, especially a large stone or rock."
Meeke will start seventh in the order in tomorrow’s opening leg, benefiting from roads swept clean of loose gravel by those ahead, and he believes it is far enough back to offer an advantage.
Meeke set the pace on two of his first three runs while Tänak was quickest of those drivers who ventured out for a fourth pass. Elfyn Evans and Jari-Matti Latvala completed the top six.
Esapekka Lappi’s Yaris stopped during the Finn’s third run with broken front right suspension.
Returning nine-time world champion Sébastien Loeb was 10th in his C3, the Frenchman 2.6sec behind team-mate Meeke.
"I didn't know the route and I hadn't seen any onboard videos beforehand so I initially just focused on getting my bearings on this stage, without taking any risks," Loeb said.
"We also had to change my driving position because to start with, I couldn't see very well. But I gradually found some rhythm as we completed the five runs. It's still difficult for me to know whereabouts I'm going to be in the standings.
"In any event, we'll need to be comfortable straight away!"
The leading times were:
1. Meeke / Nagle (Citroën C3 WRC) 3:41.0
2. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 3:41.4
3. Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 3:42.8
4. Tänak / Jarveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 3:42.8
5. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) 3:43.1
6. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) 3:43.3
7. Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) 3:43.4
8. Suninen / Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) 3:43.4
9. Loeb / Elena (Citroën C3 WRC) 3:43.6
10. Evans / Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) 3:45.3
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