Skoda driver Freddy Loix edged further away from the field on Saturday's first loop of Ypres Rally stages, stretching his lead over Guy Wilks to 46.9 seconds after SS9.
In damp conditions this morning, most chose intermediate tyres, but Wilks and his Peugeot UK team gambled on cut slicks. Although this looked wise as Wilks finally interrupted Loix's run of stage wins on SS7, the Briton was only 0.4s faster than his Belgian rival - who then resumed his run of fastest times on the next two tests.
Monte Carlo winner Bryan Bouffier (PH Peugeot) has finally got back up to third after a long chase of fellow Peugeot driver Pieter Tsjoen, who was frustrated with his driving as the Frenchman moved ahead.
Hans Weijs remains fifth, although local driver Bernd Casier is closing in.
Today's epic schedule features no fewer than 12 stages in four loops, before the rally finishes under darkness this evening.
Leading positions after SS9:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Freddy Loix Skoda 1h20m32.1s
2. Guy Wilks Peugeot UK (Kronos) + 46.9s
3. Bryan Bouffier PH Peugeot + 1m32.2s
4. Pieter Tsjoen Kronos Peugeot + 1m46.2s
5. Hans Weijs Wevers Skoda + 2m23.6s
6. Bernd Casier Duindistel Skoda + 2m28.6s
7. Toni Gardemeister TGS Skoda + 2m55.3s
8. Luca Rossetti National Proklama Abarth + 3m22.6s
9. Michal Solowow Cersanit Ford + 3m25.6s
10. Karl Kruuda ME3 Skoda + 3m53.6s