Peugeot Belgium driver Thierry Neuville extended his lead of the Tour de Corse with two more fastest stage times, as he came even closer to becoming the youngest-ever winner of an IRC round.
Neuville struggled with suspension settings that were not to his liking in the morning, but made the car stiffer during service at lunchtime and found that his 207 was much easier to drive in the afternoon.
Just two more stages remain following the final service halt in Ajaccio this afternoon, but the biggest loser from the middle loop of stages today was Skoda UK's Andreas Mikkelsen, who dropped from third to eighth after he encountered a problem changing a front-right puncture on SS12. The delay cost him more than three and a half minutes.
By contrast, Peugeot driver Bryan Bouffier made up two places on just one stage: benefitting from Mikkelsen's problems and also leapfrogging local man Pierre Campana, driving a similar 207 S2000. Their battle for fourth place is incredibly tight, with just 0.1 seconds separating the two Frenchmen.
Skoda's Jan Kopecky has consolidated his second place by going faster than the similar car of Freddy Loix in third on both stages, with half a minute now between them.
However, the Czech driver has indicated that he is unwilling to take big risks on the two stages that remain in order to overhaul his 16.5-second deficit to Neuville. A third-place finish for Loix would give him a strong position in the championship, so the Belgian is unlikely to push too hard over the final two stages either.
Another driver to hit problems this afternoon was reigning IRC two-wheel drive champion Harry Hunt, who lost his brakes following an impact with a bridge on SS11. The Englishman was able to fix his Citroen DS3 R3 on the road section before SS12, while local man Pierre-Antoine Guglielmi still leads the two-wheel drive category.