Mads Ostberg of Norway has taken the lead of the Rally of Spain, driving his Ford through an accident-filled opening six stages in one hour, 41 minutes, 32 seconds.
Sebastian Loeb, who has already wrapped up his ninth world championship, finished in second place in his Citroen 27.2 seconds behind Ostberg. The French driver plans to retire from full-time rally racing after this season-ending event.
Kiwi Hayden Paddon was forced to retire after getting stuck in thick mud 5km into the third stage.
"The conditions were very tricky and with all of the overnight rain and it just turned the roads into a mud bog," explained a disappointed Paddon.
"It's not a lost opportunity and we will do what we came here to do, and that is set fastest stage times."
"It started to rain and it was really, really tricky," added Loeb. "I don't know how it will be on tarmac tomorrow. We are second for the moment, and we will have to push for sure."
Heavy rain and a muddy course saw nine cars fail to finish the first of three days.