The Belgian returned to the service park for repairs, before returning to the fray and setting fastest time, 1.2sec quicker than team-mate Ott Tänak. Kalle Rovanperä completed the top three, a further 0.2sec adrift in his Toyota Yaris.
“They’re incredibly rough stages. Shakedown was already very hard, but we survived and we were able to find some good settings. We need a strong evening tonight to start the rally and I’m really looking forward to this,” said Neuville.
Rovanperä set the pace during the first pass, 0.9sec clear of Neuville, with Gus Greensmith an impressive third in a Ford Fiesta.
Tänak moved to the top of the rankings in the second pass with his fastest time of the morning. Neuville’s problem caused him to drop out of the top six, only for him to bounce back in style on his third pass.
Elfyn Evans was fourth, a tenth behind Rovanperä, with championship leader Sébastien Ogier completing a tight cluster of Toyota drivers another 0.2sec back. Sébastien Loeb completed the top six in another i20.
After a strong start, Greensmith’s morning rapidly went downhill. The Briton punctured during his second run before crashing down a bank 1.6km after the start of his final run. The car did not appear to be badly damaged.
The leading times were: