Three-time World Rally champion Sebastien Ogier kicked off the penultimate round of the 2015 season by comfortably topping the Super Special Stage.
Ogier's closest rival through the 3.2km run on the streets of Barcelona was Hyundai's Thierry Neuville, 2.1s off.
The Belgian, who will be demoted to the second-string Hyundai squad for Rally GB due to a poor run of form, was the eighth driver to enter the stage and set a benchmark of 3m39.9s.
At the stage finish, Neuville complained of handbrake problems and said that "the guys behind will be quicker", but his time would be beaten only by Ogier.
"It's good to start this way, but it's good to remember that we started Corsica this way as well and then the rest of the weekend was tough," Ogier said. "The real start is tomorrow."
Andreas Mikkelsen, who topped the Super Special last year, was third this time around, narrowly ahead of Citroen's Kris Meeke and former F1 driver Robert Kubica.
Jari-Matti Latvala, who could secure the runner-up spot in the standings this weekend, was five seconds off teammate Ogier in seventh, while Elfyn Evans, who had starred last time out in France, lost a full nine seconds on the short stage, subsequently noting that he made a mistake rounding one of the hay bales.
The itinerary for Friday will see the drivers complete eight tests, with two runs through the 36km Terra Alta among them.