Jari-Matti Latvala continues to lead the Jordan Rally for Ford, but Sebastien Loeb has reduced his advantage to just 4.7sec.
Loeb (Citroen) expected to benefit from running third on the dusty roads this morning, and immediately started chipping away at Latvala's overnight lead, taking second from Citroen Junior's Sebastien Ogier in the process. Then on the 41.45km Jordan River stage, Loeb really unleashed his pace, taking 20sec out of Latvala to head for service right on the leader's tail.
"I pushed really hard," said Loeb. "No big mistakes -- a few little ones, but you cannot avoid it in a 41km stage. I'm very happy with the pace."
Loeb's rapid progress and Latvala's dwindling lead continued a tough morning for Ford, which lost lead driver Mikko Hirvonen on SS8 – then the Finn broke his suspension after hitting a bank.
Ogier is 14sec off the lead in third, with Petter Solberg fourth after a mixed morning that saw him briefly go up to second after winning the Kafrain stage, only to struggle for speed on Jordan River and fall back to fourth, 28sec behind Latvala.
Dani Sordo is fifth in the second Citroen, 6sec adrift of Solberg, having lost a little time by stalling near the end of Jordan River.
Stobart Ford's Henning Solberg fell from sixth to ninth when he had to stop and change a puncture on Jordan River, and then nurse his brakes through the rest of the stage. That put Matthew Wilson (Stobart), Federico Villagra (Munchi's Ford) and Kimi Raikkonen (Citroen Junior) up to sixth, seventh and eighth, as Raikkonen's steady run through the rally continued. A minor off while stuck in the delayed Solberg's dust was his only issue of the morning.
Xevi Pons chased down Bernardo Sousa and took the S2000 lead as the latter lost a little time with a steering issue, while Patrik Flodin has made a break in the Production class amid problems for Armindo Araujo and Martin Semerad.
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford 1h56m50.4s
2. Sebastien Loeb Citroen + 4.7s
3. Sebastien Ogier Citroen + 14.1s
4. Petter Solberg Citroen + 28.0s
5. Dani Sordo Citroen + 34.3s
6. Matthew Wilson Ford + 3m17.9s
7. Federico Villagra Ford + 4m26.3s
8. Kimi Raikkonen Citroen + 5m46.7s
9. Xevi Pons Ford + 7m12.2s
10. Bernardo Sousa Ford + 7m20.3s