Sebastien Loeb completed day one of Rally Deutschland with a 20.4-second advantage over the rest of the field.
Loeb could not maintain his run of stage victories through the entire day, with Jari-Matti Latvala fastest on two of Friday afternoon's three stages.
But the Citroen team leader was consistently the quickest through the day, with Latvala's pair of rapid times punctuated by a poor SS5 performance.
The Finn had been concerned he was going over the limit on the way to winning stage four, then backed off too much in response on the next stage and dropped 12s.
Having recovered by going fastest on SS6, Latvala is now 9s behind his second-placed Ford team-mate Petter Solberg, who is 20s adrift of Loeb. Thierry Neuville is still in the podium fight too, running 5.1s behind Latvala in fourth.
Mikko Hirvonen finally felt he was getting up to speed when he tried to relax his style on the day's final stage, yet it still only delivered the sixth-fastest time.
The Citroen driver is now down to sixth overall, nearly a minute behind his rally-leading team-mate, having lost out to Dani Sordo on SS6.
Sordo had been frustrated with his Mini's pace earlier in the day, but raised his game to set top-three times on the last two stages and overhaul Hirvonen.