Three-time world champion Sebastien Loeb got off to a shaky start in the opening super special stage of the Swedish Rally on Thursday.
Loeb struggled to get to grips with conditions in Sweden
The Frenchman stalled his Citreon on the start line of the Karlstad horse racing track to finish 20th overall.
Toni Gardemeister was quickest round two 1.9km laps in one minute 31.9 secs to take the lead for Mitsubishi.
Ford's Marcus Gronholm, last year's winner, was 0.5 seconds behind with Subaru's Petter Solberg third.
Swedish fans who braved the freezing temperatures were treated to a spectacle as the cars raced two at a time around the sweeping bends in Karlstad.
The circuit also included a jump which saw some cars fly for 30m through the air.
"It was good entertainment for the spectators and I hope it kept them warm," said Gronholm.
"It was quite a high-speed stage but some of the bends tightened quite quickly so we had to be careful."
The real business begins in Friday's second leg when the drivers will complete seven stages on frozen forest roads and up into the ski arena of Hagfors.
Results after the first stage of the Swedish Rally:
1.Toni Gardemeister (Fin) Mitsubishi 1:31.9
2. Marcus Gronholm (Fin) Ford + 0.5sec
3. Petter Solberg (Nor) Subaru + 0.6
4. Mikko Hirvonen (Fin) Ford + 1.4
5. Jari-Matti Latvala (Fin) Ford + 2.2
6. Patrik Flodin (Swe) Subaru + 2.6
7. Manfred Stohl (Aut) Citreon + 2.8
7. Dani Sordo (Spa) Citreon + 2.8
9. Gigi Galli (Ita) Citreon + 3.0
10. Henning Solberg (Nor) Ford + 3.9
17. Matthew Wilson (GB) Ford + 6.3
20. Sebastien Loeb (Fra) Citreon + 8.1
21. Mark Higgins (GB) Mitsubishi + 8.8