Kubica, in the Citroen DS3 Regional Rally Car, has an advantage of 9.7 seconds over ERC championship leader Jan Kopecky.
“It was a very demanding day because the grip level has been changing a lot and I don’t have the experience,” said Kubica.
“It’s not easy when you have mud, rain and dry conditions. Tomorrow is much longer and very tricky but we have to try to learn.”
An overnight deluge resulted in significant damage to the roads on stages one and two. SS1, Coroa da Mata 1, was cancelled while SS2, São Brás/Vila Franca 1, was shortened from 16.38km to 6.14km.
With the change in stage length of leg one falling to less than 10 per cent of the total competitive distance, legs one and two were merged, which meant that the start order selected by the priority drivers for Thursday’s stages will apply to Friday’s route as well.
Kubica, who had earned the right to pick his starting order first by prevailing in the qualifying round, opted to run 10th.
Although the first São Brás/Vila Franca 1 test was damp and slippery, the next stage and the day-closing Grupo Marques super-special were largely dry.
The slippery nature of the opening test led Kopecky to struggle, who had not competed on gravel since November 2011.
“I didn’t have the confidence and I knew if I started flat out I could make a mistake,” said the Czech champion.
Craig Breen is fourth overnight, 11.7 seconds behind Kubica and 1.9 seconds ahead of Bernardo Sousa in a Ford Fiesta RRC.
Frenchman Jeremi Ancian completes the top six with two-time Acores winner Bruno Magalhaes seventh and reigning ERC 2WD champion Jan Cerny eighth.
Jaroslav Orsák tops the ERC Production Car Cup standings with Stéphane Lefebvre out in front in the ERC 2WD classification despite his Peugeot Rally Academy 208 R2 suffering a minor intercom complication on stage four.
Second-placed Hannes Danzinger felt his Renault Clio could have gone faster had he inserted more cuts into his tyres for SS1.
Marco Tempestini leads the Subaru Impreza challenge in 18th overall.
- Sports & Recreation