Mikko Hirvonen goes into Saturday of Rally d'Italia with a 1m09.6s lead after nearest rival Petter Solberg crashed out.
Sebastien Loeb, Thierry Neuville and Jari-Matti Latvala had already all run into trouble on Friday morning, and Solberg joined the casualty list on the afternoon's second stage.
The Norwegian, who was running 23sec behind leader Hirvonen's Citroen, went off and damaged his Ford's right front corner on the Tergu-Osilo stage. That left Hirvonen a minute clear of the field.
Evgeny Novikov is now his main rival, the Russian having risen to second thanks to the usual front-runners' dramas and his own speed, including two stage wins.
Novikov is 1m08s clear of his M-Sport teammate Ott Tanak, as the young duo complete a great day for the satellite Ford squad in their provisional podium positions.
Both moved up as Mads Ostberg fell back. His Adapta Ford developed differential problems in the afternoon and was front-wheel-drive only for a while. The loss of time dropped Ostberg to seventh.
All of that has helped Sebastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen into astonishing fourth and sixth places overall in their Volkswagen-run Super 2000 Skodas. Chris Atkinson splits them.
Leading positions after SS8:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen 1h56m25.5s
2. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford + 1m09.6s
3. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford + 2m18.3s
4. Sebastien Ogier VW Skoda + 3m35.7s
5. Chris Atkinson Italia Mini + 3m54.9s
6. Andreas Mikkelsen VW Skoda + 4m40.3s
7. Mads Ostberg Adapta Ford + 4m46.0s
8. Martin Prokop Czech Ford + 7m13.0s
9. Karl Kruuda ME3 Ford + 8m26.2s
10. Petter Solberg Ford + 10m15.7s