Freddy Loix holds the lead of the Madeira Rally after Friday's first two sets of stages.
The Belgian, who is driving with an injured shoulder after a motorcycle accident two weeks, has won five of the nine stages so far and leads Luca Rossetti by seven seconds.
Loix's Skoda claimed the lead of the rally first thing this morning, as overnight leader Kris Meeke -- winner of Thursday evening's superspecial -- slipped back.
Rossetti's Abarth mounted a challenge to Loix this morning, winning SS3 and SS5, taking the lead of the rally each time. But Loix kept responding and his dominant victory on SS8 helped build a cushion. Meeke lies third, having lost time on SS3 with a brake problem on his Peugeot.
Jan Kopecky is fourth, having survived clipping a bank in sixth gear on SS5, with the other Skoda of championship leader Juho Hanninen fifth overall.
Bruno Magalhaes' hopes of repeating his victory from the Azores last time out faded quickly. First he lost two minutes to a puncture on SS2, then, while trying to make up ground on the following stage, he vaulted his Peugeot 207 over the barrier and down a small drop. Both he and co-driver Carlos Magalhaes were unhurt, but they are out of the event.
Other retirements this morning include Bernardo Sousa, who had a fire in the engine bay of his Ford Fiesta, and Miguel Campos, who stopped with a suspected electrical problem on his Fiesta.
Overall positions after SS9:
1. Freddy Loix Skoda 1h22m50.1s
2. Luca Rossetti Abarth +7.1s
3. Kris Meeke Peugeot +16.0s
4. Jan Kopecky Skoda +17.8s
5. Juho Hanninen Skoda +34.3s
6. Miguel Nunes Peugeot +1m05.7s