Kris Meeke admitted it "hadn't been a great day" but he steered clear of trouble to end the first leg of Rally Spain in eighth place, less than a minute off the lead.
The Citroen driver from Dungannon was happy to see the back of the eight gravel stages which made up the opening leg before the rally switches to the more traditional Spanish tarmac roads.
"No, it wasn't a great day but I have very little experience of these stages, and the level of grip varies so much, so it was all about getting through without taking risks," he said.
Meeke re-starts today 59 seconds behind leader Sebastien Ogier, Volkswagen's World champion moving to the front and overtaking team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala and Ford's Ott Tanak on the long final stage of the day.
Spaniard Dani Sordo was the leading Hyundai driver in fourth ahead of Meeke's team-mate Mads Ostberg as the fight for second in the manufacturers' championship continued between the French and Korean teams.
Andreas Mikkelsen (VW) and Hayden Paddon (Hyundai) filled sixth and seventh ahead of Meeke with Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) and Elfyn Evans (Ford) completing the top 10.
Craig Breen, from Waterford, was in 20th place overall and eighth in the WRC2 category after his Peugeot suffered suspension damage.