Sebastien Loeb leads Citroen teammate Mikko Hirvonen by 4.5sec after the last full-length stage of leg one of Rally Mexico.
Loeb moved ahead of the Finn on the first stage after lunchtime service today, but has was not able to pull far away on the two stages that followed.
With the second run through SS9, Ortega, canceled after spectators threw stones at cars there this morning, the only stages remaining on the Friday itinerary are the repeat of the short Guanajuato street stage and two evening runs through the super special.
Although the Citroens lead, it is the Fords that have flown this afternoon, with Jari-Matti Latvala winning all three stages as he pushes to recover from the impact with a rock that dropped him from the lead to eighth earlier today. The Finn has now gotten back up to fourth, behind Mads Ostberg (Adapta Ford), while teammate Petter Solberg – whose double puncture dropped him as low as 13th in the morning – is sixth and closing on Ott Tanak (M-Sport Ford).
Thierry Neuville had been among this group, too, but crashed his Citroen Junior entry on stage six when holding an impressive fourth.
Behind seventh-placed Evgeny Novikov (M-Sport Ford), Chris Atkinson has been slightly frustrated with his pace in the Monster Ford in eighth on his World Rally Championship return.
Leading positions after SS8:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 1h20m01.5s
2. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen + 4.5s
3. Mads Ostberg Adapta Ford + 1m02.1s
4. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 1m19.9s
5. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford + 1m30.4s
6. Petter Solberg Ford + 1m35.8s
7. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford + 1m48.6s
8. Chris Atkinson Monster Ford + 2m39.6s
9. Nasser Al-Attiyah Qatar Citroen + 2m56.4s
10. Armindo Araujo Portugal Mini + 3m33.0s