Freddy Loix moved into the Rally Sanremo lead by setting the fastest time on the 44-kilometer Ronde night stage that closed leg one.
BFO Skoda driver Loix had gone onto the stage four seconds behind leader Andreas Mikkelsen (Skoda UK), but was quickest through by 7.2sec, giving him a 2.7sec advantage over his Norwegian rival going into day two. Six stages during daytime tomorrow will decide the rally.
The pair have broken away slightly from the rest of the field as Kronos Peugeot's Thierry Neuville lost time on the stage nursing a brake problem. He remains third, but is now 16.6sec off the lead, having started Ronde less than a second behind Loix, and is only 1.2sec ahead of Bryan Bouffier (PH Peugeot).
Points leader Jan Kopecky is still fifth, now 34sec off the lead, although the Skoda team leader has pulled out a bit of breathing space over pursuers Bruno Magalhaes (Peugeot Portugal) and Umberto Scandola (Car Racing Ford).
After losing time with a spin and stall this afternoon, Giandomenico Basso dropped out of the top 10 completely in the remaining Proton when an intercom failure led to him going off the road and losing four minutes. His teammate Chris Atkinson retired on SS1.
Leading positions after SS7:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Freddy Loix BFO Skoda 1h17m49.7s
2. Andreas Mikkelsen Skoda UK + 2.7s
3. Thierry Neuville Kronos/Peugeot Belux + 16.6s
4. Bryan Bouffier PH/Peugeot France + 17.8s
5. Jan Kopecky Skoda + 34.2s
6. Bruno Magalhaes Peugeot Portugal + 39.2s
7. Umberto Scandola Car Ford + 47.1s
8. Alessandro Perico PA Peugeot + 2m39.9s
9. Pierre Campana Munaretto Peugeot + 2m40.3s
10. Toni Gardemeister TGS Skoda + 3m35.9s