Rising Belgian star Thierry Neuville opened up an early lead on the first two stages of the Tour de Corse, which is running as part of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge for the first time.
Kronos Peugeot driver Neuville mounted his most concerted challenge for victory yet in the Canary Islands last month, and started round three of the series in even better form, setting the pace on SS1 by 0.7sec and then blitzing the repeat run through the stage to open up an 8.9sec lead over Skoda's Jan Kopecky.
The latter is the factory Skoda team's sole official representative this weekend as Skoda has chosen not to enter reigning champion Juho Hanninen in this round. Hanninen may yet still be able to defend his title as under IRC rules drivers only count their best seven scores from the 12-round season.
Monte Carlo winner Bryan Bouffier (PH Peugeot) moved up from fourth to third on SS2 after attending to a steering problem, taking the place from Skoda UK's Andreas Mikkelsen. Freddy Loix is fifth in the BFO Skoda, battling with Peugeot UK driver Guy Wilks.