England's Gary Clark and Jamie Spence each had 69 to finish alongside Tony Johnstone of Zimbabwe at 3-under. Two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal and fellow Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez turned in 70s to tie for fifth place with three others at minus-two.
Delagrange braved blustery conditions at Ta Shee Golf and Country Club, posting birdies at his first two holes -- the 10th and 11th -- before adding two more to make the turn in 32.
The 27-year-old Frenchman moved way out in front with birdies at the third and sixth holes, but errant tee shots at the eighth and ninth led to a pair of closing bogeys.
'I played well today especially as I only had two hours sleep last night,' said Delagrange, who earned a spot on the European Tour after winning twice on the Challenge Tour in 2001. 'It is also pleasing because this is the first time that I have played in Asia.'
Olazabal also began on the back nine Thursday and wallowed for a time after a bogey at the 12th hole. His fortunes turned at the par-5 3rd, where he rolled in a 45-foot putt for eagle, and he later tacked on a birdie two at the par-3 7th.
'I'm very pleased, I think it's a good round,' said Olazabal, who captured his 19th European Tour title at the French Open in May. 'The wind was very strong and it was difficult to score well.'
Fiji's Vijay Singh, who recorded back-to-back victories in Asia earlier this year at the Carlesburg Malaysian Open and the Caltex Singapore Masters, finished three shots off the pace with a 1-under 71.
Part of the next group at even-par 72 was New Zealand's Michael Campbell, the winner of the 2000 Johnnie Walker Classic over this same Ta Shee Resort layout.
Six-time major winner Nick Faldo made a brief appearance on the leaderboard after an eagle at the third. He carded four bogeys and one birdie the rest of the way to tie for 27th at 1-over.
Full-Field Scores from the BMW Asian Open