Nasser Al-Attiyah leads by 90 seconds at the midway point of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge's farewell event in Cyprus.
Series champion Andreas Mikkelsen lost his overnight lead when a puncture on the day's opening Koilinia stage cost him two minutes. Four straight stage wins then got the Skoda UK Fabia back up from seventh to second, as Mikkelsen reduced Qatar Ford driver Al-Attiyah's advantage to 1m18s.
But another puncture on Panayia, Saturday's final stage, meant Mikkelsen dropped a further 12sec to the leader. Six stages remain on Sunday to decide the victory.
Yazeed Al-Rahji ran second after SS2, only to crash dramatically on the next stage. Al-Rahji and co-driver Michael Orr were unhurt despite their Ford plunging a long way off the road.
Skoda Deutschland's Sepp Wiegand recovered from an early spin to run third until stopping his Fabia with broken steering on the last stage of the day.
Jarkko Nikara would have picked up the position had he not suffered a puncture nearby, so his Tommi Makinen Racing Subaru teammate Toshi Arai now holds the final provisional podium spot.