The area was covered by heavy snowfall which made racing extremely difficult but Kajetanowicz mastered the conditions with his co-driver Jarek Baran and they lead by 3m 52.2s. Frenchman Robert Consani sits in second position with Jaormir Tarabus a further 2m 36.9s back in third.
The snowy surfaces claimed a number of retirements including Breen who crashed two kilometres from the finish of the first spring stage in Pierbach. His Peugeot Rally Academy 208 T16 slid downhill of a left-hander and became stranded in the thick snow.
The Irish driver will have to restart under Rally 2 rules and hopes to score valuable bonus points despite being out of contention for the overall victory. Breen finished third in last year’s European Rally Championship.
“It was a 10kph accident,” a downhearted Breen said. “As I got back on the power I lost grip and the front of the car spun round. The stage was going really well and we doing the best job we could.
“I’m gutted to go out on the first stage of the year but I’ve got to put it to the back of my mind and get on with it.”
The rally continues for eight more stages through the Austrian mountains towards Freistadt.