Sebastien Loeb has charged from third to first on the second morning of Rally Mexico as overnight leader Petter Solberg struggled with running first on the road.
World champion Loeb had ended leg one 27 seconds behind Solberg, but took just two stages to vault into the lead as he made the most of Solberg and second placed Sebastien Ogier sweeping the dusty roads clear for him.
"I'm in the lead now, so I'll try to stay there, but it's not easy," Loeb said. "I will try to continue to increase my lead, I don't know how it will be on the second pass – maybe I will not be able to make the difference, but I will try."
Solberg insisted he was still happy, having expected to lose even more time to Loeb. The Norwegian is now 17.8sec adrift in second, and only 2.1sec ahead of Ogier, who has closed rapidly despite a quick spin this morning.
"The first stage was very good and [Loeb] didn't take so much out. The second was much better than I expected. This stage was so loose, I lost too much," Solberg said after SS12. "It's very difficult to push and very slippery. I knew exactly what would happen yesterday, and at times this morning I've been very good."
Ford's unhappy rally has continued, with neither Jari-Matti Latvala nor Mikko Hirvonen able to find much pace today. Hirvonen lost a little more time with a damaged tire, while Latvala felt he had either broken a damper or sustained a puncture after struggling through SS12.
"Ogier and Sebastien are unbelievable, they are just getting away all the time. That's it," said Hirvonen, who is only just ahead of Stobart Ford's Henning Solberg after several top three stages times from the Norwegian.
The only positive for Ford was that Latvala and Hirvonen were able to move up to fourth and fifth when Citroen's Dani Sordo went off and damaged his suspension on today's first stage, forcing him to retire.
Sordo was one of several casualties on SS10, which also saw Stobart Ford's Matthew Wilson slide into a ditch and retirement, and Ken Block break his Monster Ford's suspension.