Colin McRae made an encouraging start with his new team but was still left trailing as the world champion, Marcus Gronholm launched a stirring title defence, here in the Monte Carlo Rally yesterday.
McRae came through a treacherous first day in the French Alps that saw two leading contenders crash out to lie in third place for Citroën, while his fellow Briton Richard Burns is fourth.
But McRae is still 76 seconds behind Gronholm, who won three of the six special stages to finish with a comfortable lead of just over 20 seconds over the Citroën of Frenchman Sebastien Loeb. Burns finished almost two minutes down on Gronholm.
Finland's four-time world champion, Tommi Makinen saw his bid abruptly ended on the penultimate stage when he, along with Petter Solberg's challenge, slid off the road after hitting a patch of ice.