Mikko Hirvonen has stretched his lead over Sebastien Loeb to 8.4 seconds after seven stages in Sweden.
The Ford driver had hit the front as Loeb struggled with the rutted surface on the first stage after service this afternoon, and although Loeb regained a little ground on SS6, Hirvonen added another stage victory on the second run through Torntorp.
"It's been good. From the last stage in the morning I've had a good setup and a good rhythm and tried to keep it," Hirvonen said. "We're not far ahead, but I don't think running first on the road will be any problem."
Loeb admitted that he was not comfortable on the stages when they had been partially cleared of snow by the first passage.
"Maybe I'm a bit slow, maybe he's a bit faster than me," said the Citroen driver. "I'm quite happy, we are in the fight with Mikko, but it's a little bit difficult for me - especially on the second pass, I don't like it so much. At the moment the results are not bad, I'm still in the contest with Mikko, and everything is possible."
Dani Sordo remains third in the second Citroen. He was briefly concerned that an engine problem might be developing, but this was resolved by cleaning snow out of a blocked filter. Jari-Matti Latvala briefly raised his pace and won SS6, but is now half a minute behind Hirvonen in fourth.
Sebastien Ogier now holds a solitary fifth for Citroen Junior, with Marcus Gronholm's stage six electrical problems costing the Stobart Ford 13 minutes. The former World Rally Champion has pledged to keep pushing for the rest of the weekend even though all hope of a good result is now gone, but admitted his rustiness had held him back.
"It's been a difficult day. This is the first stage that's really in the right direction," said Gronholm after taking fourth place on SS7. "I would like to do good times and try to improve. OK, it's a little bit late, but this shows that it's quite important to be in the car all the time. I haven't been driving rally cars and my times are not fantastic."
Henning Solberg and Matthew Wilson are sixth and seventh for Stobart, although the latter is just 0.3sec ahead of Mads Ostberg as the Adapta Subaru driver tries to recover following his stage five incidents.
Kimi Raikkonen is currently classified 47th, having lost nearly half an hour stuck in a snow bank after a trip off the road on the Viggen stage.
P-G Andersson's S2000 class lead is now over a minute, and the Skoda driver and nearest rival Janne Tuohino have both been elevated into the overall top 10 amid the WRC attrition.
In the Production category, Patrik Flodin was coming under heavy pressure from Anders Grondal this afternoon until the latter lost his lights heading into the gloomy SS7 and dropped time.
The crews are now heading back for another run through the superspecial later this evening to conclude leg on.
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Mikko Hirvonen Ford 1h06m27.8s
2. Sebastien Loeb Citroen + 8.4s
3. Dani Sordo Citroen + 12.2s
4. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 31.6s
5. Sebastien Ogier Citroen + 1m10.2s
6. Henning Solberg Ford + 1m46.0s
7. Matthew Wilson Ford + 3m17.6s
8. Mads Ostberg Subaru + 3m17.9s
9. P-G Andersson Skoda + 4m02.3s
10. Janne Tuohino Ford + 5m09.0s