The Monte Carlo Rally has a reputation for being the toughest event on the World Rally calendar and today's opening six special stages confirmed that view.
While many crews struggled with tyre choice, others took a calm approach and reaped the rewards. Among them was the British contingent, Citroen's Kris Meeke and M-Sport's Elfyn Evans.
DS3 WRC driver Meeke had a solid start to his career as a factory driver and ended the day second, 38s behind leader Bryan Bouffier. Evans, in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC, was similarly impressive as his own factory career got underway. The 25-year-old is the son of Welsh rally hero Gwyndaf, who will be a proud man this evening as his son sits in sixth position, one place ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala in the dominant VW Polo R WRC. Even more impressively Evans is two places clear of his team-mate Mikko Hirvonen.
Inconsistent road conditions make the Monte one of the toughest sporting events in the world. The target is to get to the end, and those that do often bag unexpectedly high finishes. Snow and ice make it next to impossible to guess grip levels and so Meeke and Evans deserve high praise for getting this far without encountering serious problems.
While Meeke and Evans ticked the first Monte box by reaching the end of day one, more illustrious drivers struggled to do the same. The world champion, Sebastien Ogier, was widely expected to have a comfortable run to the win in his VW Polo but the Frenchman tagged a wall on the very first corner of the opening test.