Sebastien Loeb has charged into the lead at the end of day two of the Jordan Rally, having decided to push and build a cushion rather than slow so that Jari-Matti Latvala was stuck running first on the road again.
Having to clear the dust for cars behind cost Ford driver Latvala a lot of time today, with his 28-second overnight advantage becoming a 27sec deficit to Loeb heading into the final day.
Loeb (Citroen) had closed in on Latvala this morning, briefly drew level as the duo shared the rally lead after SS10, and then surged clear on the 41km Jordan River stage.
"I tried to push very, very hard and I couldn't do better than that," said Loeb. "I hope it's a good choice. I don't like these regulations."
Latvala ended the day third, as Citroen Junior's Sebastien Ogier took second from him with a rapid run through Jordan River. Ogier insisted at the end of the stage that this was according to Citroen's plan, but it means the young Frenchman starts tomorrow ahead of Latvala on the road and only 3sec in front in the standings.
Petter Solberg has fallen 43.2sec adrift of the lead in fourth, the Solberg Citroen driver losing most of the time with two disappointing runs through Jordan River.
"I don't know what it is with that stage," said Solberg. "I can't get the feeling, the rhythm and the traction. I don't know why. I have to look into this."
Dani Sordo is 5sec behind Solberg in the second factory Citroen, and over four minutes clear of the rest of the WRC field, led by Stobart Ford's Matthew Wilson, with Kimi Raikkonen still running consistently in eighth for Citroen Junior.
Xevi Pons and Patrik Flodin have maintained their leads in the S2000 and Production classes, respectively.
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 2h41m06.7s
2. Sebastien Ogier Citroen + 24.6s
3. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 27.7s
4. Petter Solberg Citroen + 43.2s
5. Dani Sordo Citroen + 48.8s
6. Matthew Wilson Ford + 5m05.7s
7. Federico Villagra Ford + 6m51.0s
8. Kimi Raikkonen Citroen + 8m09.0s
9. Henning Solberg Ford + 10m04.0s
10. Xevi Pons Ford + 10m17.7s