Mikko Hirvonen continues to lead the Monte Carlo Rally going into the final day, while Sebastien Ogier's charge has brought him into the fight for second.
Ford driver Hirvonen now holds a 47.7-second advantage over Skoda's Juho Hanninen, who is 23s ahead of Ogier (Peugeot).
Hirvonen was not fastest on any of this afternoon's three stages, with Hanninen quickest through SS8 and then Ogier winning the next two. The rally leader was only sixth on SS9, and admitted he was surprised at his rivals' speed on that stage in particular.
"It was very, very slippery," said Hirvonen. "The boys have done really unbelievable times. There were so many places with black ice, I couldn't have gone any faster. They have done really well."
Hanninen was frustrated at the end of the day's final stage, feeling he could have got closer to Hirvonen had he kept his tires in better shape. "I destroyed the rear tires quite early, I was too aggressive at the start and by the end the rear was oversteering," he said. "It was not good driving at the start of the stage."
Ogier's pair of stage wins saw him pass and pull away from fourth-placed Nicolas Vouilloz (Skoda), but the 2009 winner insisted he was still not going flat-out.
"It was very, very tricky – a lot of mud on the road," said Ogier after SS10. "So I preferred to not push too much tonight. The rally is still long."
But Vouilloz reckons his chances of getting back ahead of Ogier for third are now slim.
"Tomorrow we are on stages near Gap where Sebastien lives so I think it will be more difficult for us," said the 2008 champion. "He's driving very fast. We're trying to stay on the road."
Stephane Sarrazin has enjoyed a trouble-free afternoon in the Peugeot France car and is now back up to fifth, ahead of Franz Wittmann (Interwetten Peugeot) and Guy Wilks (Skoda UK). Bruno Magalhaes (Peugeot Portugal) has slipped back to eighth following severe intercom problems that left him trying to follow his co-driver Carlos Magalhaes' hand gestures on the dark and slippery stage 10.
Toni Gardemeister's wild rally has continued, with a pair of spins on SS9 seeing him finish the day behind Jan Kopecky (Skoda) in 10th.
"I was driving flat-out everywhere, but we just spun twice," said Gardemeister. "I was sure we hit a tree with the first one, but there were no problems. We were pushing like hell and then we spun again."
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Mikko Hirvonen Ford 3h12m44.0s
2. Juho Hanninen Skoda + 47.7s
3. Sebastien Ogier Peugeot + 1m10.3s
4. Nicolas Vouilloz Skoda + 1m34.3s
5. Stephane Sarrazin Peugeot + 6m06.0s
6. Franz Wittmann Peugeot + 6m53.8s
7. Guy Wilks Skoda + 7m07.3s
8. Bruno Magalhaes Peugeot + 7m12.8s
9. Jan Kopecky Skoda + 7m24.4s
10. Toni Gardemeister Abarth + 9m13.0s