Andreas Mikkelsen inched away from pursuers Freddy Loix and Thierry Neuville through the second loop of Rally Sanremo stages, though the top three are still covered by just five seconds.
Skoda UK's Mikkelsen was quickest on all three stages after service, but only by fractions of a second on SS4 and SS5, before Neuville (Kronos Peugeot) equaled him on the loop-closing Bignone stage.
Neuville had earlier lost second to BFO Skoda driver Loix as the veteran continued his charge up the order. The two Belgians are 0.9sec apart, with Loix trailing leader Mikkelsen by 4.5sec. Bryan Bouffier is also within 12.2sec of the lead for Peugeot France.
Championship leader Jan Kopecky found more pace after setup changes to his Skoda at service, allowing him to jump from seventh to fifth with the second-quickest time on Coldirodi. But his progress stalled thereafter and he only just hung on to his position ahead of Bruno Magalhaes (Peugeot Portugal) and Umberto Scandola (Car Racing Ford) after SS6.
The field is now heading for a long regroup before the day ends with the demanding 44-kilometer Ronde stage at 10:30 p.m. local time.
Leading positions after SS6:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Andreas Mikkelsen Skoda UK 48m09.5s
2. Freddy Loix BFO Skoda + 4.5s
3. Thierry Neuville Kronos/Peugeot Belux + 5.4s
4. Bryan Bouffier PH/Peugeot France + 12.2s
5. Jan Kopecky Skoda UK + 20.5s
6. Bruno Magalhaes Peugeot Portugal + 21.4s
7. Umberto Scandola Car Ford + 24.3s
8. Pierre Campana Munaretto Peugeot + 1m04.2s
9. Giandomenico Basso Proton + 1m07.7s
10. Toni Gardemeister TGS Skoda + 1m24.5s