Sebastien Loeb is storming towards another win in the Rally Catalunya after Sebastien Ogier lost 15 minutes with an incident on SS8.
Ogier had been trying his utmost to keep Loeb within range this morning, but when the former slid into a barrier on the La Mussara stage, damaging his car and tumbling to 17th place, Loeb was left with a commanding lead.
Despite extending his margin over new second-place man Petter Solberg to 46.2 seconds by winning SS9, Loeb said he would probably carry on going flat-out this afternoon.
"It depends on the conditions, if they're a bit tricky then we might have to take it easier, but for now I'll be pushing hard," he said.
Solberg moved ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala on today's first stage as the Ford man struggled with a set-up that proved too stiff. He was able to make some changes on the road section but has fallen 11.3s behind the Solberg Citroen and is now just 6.1sec ahead of Dani Sordo, as the Citroen number two raised his game this morning once back on asphalt.
"Now we get to service where we'll change springs and hopefully the car will be better this afternoon," said Latvala. "I can't manage the speed of Sordo, but I'd like to fight with Petter."
Mikko Hirvonen dropped behind the flying Sordo, who was in the top three on every stage of this loop this morning and is fifth in the second Ford.
Matthew Wilson holds a lonely sixth for Stobart Ford, while Hungarian privateer Frigyes Turan, now in a Ford Focus rather than his usual Peugeot 307, is up to seventh, having set two top-six stage times today. He also benefited from Federico Villagra retiring after his Munchi's Ford's engine temperature rocketed and Ken Block losing several minutes when he put his Monster Ford off the road on SS8.
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 2h02m39.0s
2. Petter Solberg Citroen + 46.2s
3. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 57.5s
4. Dani Sordo Citroen + 1m03.6s
5. Mikko Hirvonen Ford + 1m15.9s
6. Matthew Wilson Ford + 4m50.3s
7. Frigyes Turan Ford + 6m21.1s
8. Henning Solberg Ford + 7m22.3s
9. Khalid Al Qassimi Ford + 7m47.1s
10. Ken Block Ford + 10m43.5s