Jari-Matti Latvala leads Rally Argentina by 12.3sec after a superb performance on the controversial mixed-surface El Condor stage.
Ford driver Latvala had held a narrow lead after this morning's first two stages, but it was his speed on El Condor – which this year ends with 20km of asphalt after the more traditional Argentinean gravel – that really stretched his advantage.
Latvala said he had been determined to improve his asphalt pace this year so was delighted with the result.
"It's something that I haven't been so good at, and I've been really trying to concentrate and improve in that area," he said.
Petter Solberg is second in his Citroen, and was the closest to Latvala on El Condor, but still 9.3sec adrift.
"Jari really killed us all on the tarmac," Solberg admitted.
Factory Citroen drivers Sebastien Ogier and Sebastien Loeb are third and fourth, ahead of Ford's Mikko Hirvonen. All three were deeply unhappy with driving on the asphalt section with gravel tires, which Loeb described as: "Terrible. It's undriveable. Really, really dangerous. It's too fast. Even on the straight, when you touch the brakes, the car is going everywhere. You just try to keep it on the road."
Hirvonen was in complete agreement with Loeb.
"It's completely stupid," said the Finn. "In some places we're in sixth gear, on the limiter all the time, and when you brake, your tires are moving all over the place."