Ford's hopes of a victory on Rally New Zealand now rest with Jari-Matti Latvala, with the Finn half a minute behind leader Sebastien Ogier, but running third on the road through tomorrow's final day.
Latvala's teammate Mikko Hirvonen, the driver widely regarded as having been in the best position on the road today, dropped back when he spun on the day's opener.
Hirvonen is now close to a minute down on the top-placed Citroen, while Sebastien Loeb has blasted back up the order following his Friday error, recovering from seventh to second - just 5.1sec behind Ogier.
"It's always a worry when Sebastien [Loeb] has nothing to lose," said Latvala. "He can take big risks and today we have seen that. We will have to see about tomorrow, see what we can do. The gap is quite big, but anything can happen. It also depends a little bit on the weather."
If it rains on the final loop of stages, south of Auckland on the Tasman coast, the advantage would return to Citroen. If it stays dry, the Te Hutewai and Whaanga Coast stages will be covered in loose gravel, forcing Ogier and Loeb to clean the road for Latvala.
A frustrated Hirvonen explained his problem on the morning stage, saying: "We were about seven kilometers into the stage and I ran wide in a right-hand corner. I guess if I ran wide, I was carrying too much speed. The car slid and the back left wheel hit the bank.
"We had a spin and I had to get the car around and facing in the right direction again. We must have hit the tyre because it was empty at the end of the stage. The tyre hadn't gone down, the construction is strong enough to keep it up, but there was no air in it.
"I don't know what's happening. This rally has been a bit of a struggle. Every time I try to go flat out, something happens, I make some small mistake and it doesn't work."