Sebastien Loeb remains on course for victory in the Rally Catalunya, with Petter Solberg and Dani Sordo battling for second.
Loeb took another stage win on the second run through La Mussara today just to keep himself amused, as he kept a healthy 44.4-second margin over second-placed Solberg.
"It's been a great day and I have a good lead now," said the Citroen number one. "We had some fun in the stages – we are driving in a good rhythm with no big risks, but still pushing."
In Loeb's wake, his teammate Sordo's progress has been one of the stories of day two. Off the pace on Friday's mixed-surface tests, he started today a distant fifth but has flown on the asphalt stages.
He won the Santa Marina stage this afternoon despite having to nudge his way past Mikko Hirvonen's limping Ford, which had slowed with a turbo problem, during the route, and then took third from Hirvonen's teammate Jari-Matti Latvala on the next stage. But just as Sordo was preparing to hunt down Solberg for second, the Citroen privateer set the fastest time on Riudecanyes, surprising Sordo and bringing the gap back up to 16.9sec.
Although Hirvonen lost over four minutes with the turbo issue on SS10, he was able to rectify it on the next road section and got back on the pace, so continues in fifth place behind Latvala.
Sebastien Ogier (Citroen Junior) continued after his crash this morning and has clawed his way back up from 17th to 14th, but needs a retirement or two ahead to get back into the points.
The Junior title battle is now finely poised. Championship leader Aaron Burkart will restart under superally tomorrow following his crash today, and high attrition in the class means he will still be in sixth place. His rival Hans Weijs Jr. is chasing Yeray Lemes for the class lead - reducing the Spaniard's advantage to 14sec on this loop – but second would be sufficient for Weijs unless Burkart gets up to fourth.
Four more stages remain on Sunday, with two runs through the monster 42km El Priorat plus the 4km blasts of La Serra d'Almos.
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 2h40m01.9s
2. Petter Solberg Citroen + 44.4s
3. Dani Sordo Citroen + 1m01.3s
4. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 1m11.4s
5. Mikko Hirvonen Ford + 6m12.5s
6. Matthew Wilson Ford + 6m28.3s
7. Frigyes Turan Ford + 7m48.6s
8. Henning Solberg Ford + 9m50.3s
9. Khalid Al Qassimi Ford + 9m54.3s
10. Ken Block Ford + 13m20.9s