Kris Meeke's flying start spoiled by puncture
Kris Meeke was left deflated after a stunning start to the Monte Carlo Rally.
Fastest in the morning shakedown, he slotted into second place just five seconds behind his Toyota team-mate Ott Tanak after the first stage last night and looked like retaining his position more than halfway through the second of the opening leg tests.
But a puncture cost the Ulsterman close to a minute and dropped him back to seventh.
Thrown a lifeline by Tommi Makinen's Toyota Gazoo team after being sacked by Citroen following a crash in Portugal last year, Meeke showed he has lost none of his competitive edge as he powered his new Yaris to the fastest time in the morning warm-up.
He was right on the pace again last night as he made it a Toyota one-two at the top of the leaderboard ahead of the Citroen of world champion Sebastien Ogier.
"I have been waiting for that moment for so many months, but the car just gives you confidence," he said. "I tempered my confidence for the first one, especially after I saw (Teemu) Suninen in the ditch."
The Finn was the first casualty of the rally, crashing his M-Sport Ford Fiesta less than three miles into the first stage.
However, on stage two a front tyre came off the rim. "I don't know how it happened; I just got a warning on the dashboard and had to back off," he explained.
Tanak continued to lead overnight, nine seconds ahead of Ogier with the Hyundai of Thierry Neuville in third place, a further six seconds back.
Esapekka Lappi was fourth but 45 seconds off the pace in his first outing for Citroen with Jari-Matt Latvala's Toyota fifth ahead of the leading Ford of Elfyn Evans.