Giandomenico Basso has pushed his Abarth Grande Punto through the ranks of Peugeot 207s to take the lead of the Rali Vinho Madeira, the seventh round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, at the end of the opening loop on day two.
At the end of the first leg of a hard-fought battle for victory is developing among the top Super 2000 runners. Overnight leader Kris Meeke has lost ground in his Peugeot 207 while the local heroes Bruno Magalhaes and Alex Camacho lead the chase after Basso for the French marque in second and third places respectively.
Defending champion Nicolas Vouilloz holds fourth place for Peugeot ahead of the second Abarth of Luca Rossetti, with Meeke and championship rival Freddy Loix trading places in their Peugeots. The Belgian is currently just shading Meeke for sixth place.
Britain's Guy Wilks lies 10th in the MEM-built Proton, feeling more optimistic about his chances on asphalt this weekend after a pre-event test in the impressive new car.
Meanwhile the 2WD contest sees two local entries – the Renault Clio of Filipe Freitas and the Peugeot 206 of Jose Camacho - keeping ahead of series frontrunners Manuel Villa (Fiat Punto) and Denis Millet (Peugeot 207).