Ford team principal Malcolm Wilson has rated Mikko Hirvonen's second day performance on Rally Sweden as the best of his career.
Hirvonen ended today's eight stages with a 16.6-second advantage over six-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb after a thrilling battle on the frozen roads north of Karlstad.
"Mikko has been fantastic today," said Wilson. "It's his best single day in the championship yet. The way he has managed himself has been fantastic. He's been very clever in the way he's worked, but we saw this coming before the season started. He said he wouldn't be beaten this year and he's certainly made sure of that today."
Five stages now stand between Hirvonen and his first ever Rally Sweden victory.
"In simple terms, Mikko's got to find another gear tomorrow," added Wilson. "He's confident about that. He says he likes the first stage in the morning and he's very happy. But, there's another 100 kilometers of rallying tomorrow and we all know anything can happen.
"The way he and Sebastien have moved clear today has been incredible. It was all quite close yesterday, but they've shown their experience and their speed today."