Villa Carlos Paz - Finland's Jari-Matti Latvala remained on top after eight stages of the Rally of Argentina on Friday, making a strong start in his quest to back up last month's victory in Mexico.
Latvala, in a Volkswagen, ended the session just over 10 seconds ahead of New Zealand's Hayden Paddon with world champion and overall leader Sebastien Ogier close behind in third.
Ogier is looking for a first victory in the mountains of Cordoba, the only race he has yet to win, and posted the fastest time over the opening two specials before Latvala responded to claim four of the next six stages.
"I gave everything I had, it was a great fight," said Latvala, who won in Argentina two years ago.
Ogier meanwhile felt he was at a disadvantage having to set off first and cleaning the track for those behind him, which takes on extra significance on the sandy tracks in Argentina.
"I can't fight, I'm just doing my race," said Ogier, who is chasing a fourth straight world title.
Thierry Neuville was slowed by mechanical problems early on, but the Belgian fought back to claim stage five in his Hyundai, while Paddon edged out Ogier to take the sixth special.
"It's very tight. Overall, I'm very happy with day," said Paddon, who is fifth in the standings in his second season in WRC.