Jari-Matti Latvala will take a 22.7-second lead into the final day of Rally Australia, though he admits he is likely to have to hand victory to his Ford team-mate Mikko Hirvonen.
The Ford duo have run first and second since the Citroens crashed on Friday, but while Hirvonen is within 36 points of championship leader Sebastien Loeb with three rounds to go after Australia, Latvala is 96 points adrift. Although Loeb has rejoined under superally, he looks highly unlikely to make it into the points and is hoping to at least salvage a bonus score from the powerstage.
While Latvala added 0.1sec to his lead over Hirvonen through the two superspecials, he was already aware that it might be to no avail – especially as the Fords are comfortably clear of third-placed Petter Solberg.
"I have a passion for the win but I know how important it is for the team," Latvala said. "If we have the chance and there is enough gap to Petter, I know we may play team tactics and I understand the situation very well."
Solberg was slightly quicker than the Fords on the Coffs superspecial but remains 59.5sec off the lead. He made a setup breakthrough today and feels confident he is now fast enough to fight for the win, but acknowledged that the gap is almost certainly too big.
"I was very pleased now to be faster on both runs, that was very good," he said at the end of the second run through Coffs. "I'm happy and we will see tomorrow. I would like to get higher, maybe it's happened too late but still I'm very happy with the performance."
Only five of the 12 WRC entrants have made it through the first two days without having to resort to superally. Remaining survivors Matthew Wilson (Stobart Ford) and Khalid Al Qassimi (Abu Dhabi Ford) hold fourth and fifth.
Leading positions after SS20:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford 2h43m47.4s
2. Mikko Hirvonen Ford + 22.7s
3. Petter Solberg Solberg Citroen + 59.5s
4. Matthew Wilson Stobart Ford + 5m53.7s
5. Khalid Al Qassimi Abu Dhabi Ford + 9m24.4s
6. Hayden Paddon Symtech Subaru + 13m29.2s
7. Michal Kosciuszko Lotus Mitsubishi + 13m32.1s
8. Oleksandr Saliuk Mentos Mitsubishi + 15m33.1s
9. Benito Guerra GMA Mitsubishi + 16m35.0s
10. Evgeny Novikov Stobart Ford + 17m00.8s