Sebastien Ogier stormed into a 42-second Rally Italy lead on Friday afternoon, as Thierry Neuville starred.
World Rally Championship leader Ogier took it easy through the first two stages of the second loop to save his Volkswagen's tires for the 31 kilometers of Monte Lerno. That was where Ogier unleashed his full pace, going eight seconds quicker than the best non-VW.
In Ogier's wake, Neuville was grabbing the attention with two stage wins in his M-Sport Ford. That brought the Belgian up from a quiet fifth to third, just four seconds behind Mikko Hirvonen's Citroen.
Hirvonen was generally delighted with his car, but puzzled by why his front tires wore so badly whatever he tried. That accounted for the 42sec deficit to Ogier.
Neuville's progress demoted his teammate Mads Ostberg and Citroen's Dani Sordo to fourth and fifth as the afternoon progressed. Jari-Matti Latvala was not far off his VW teammate Ogier's pace as he continued to recover from his morning puncture.
Although still seventh, he has got the gap to third VW driver Andreas Mikkelsen's sixth place down to 33sec.
Robert Kubica, running 11th overall, has now got his WRC 2 lead to almost two minutes.
Day one is not over yet as crews will head out for two evening stages after service.
Leading positions after SS6:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Sebastien Ogier VW 1h19m05.6s
2. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen +42.4s
3. Thierry Neuville M-Sport Ford +47.1s
4. Mads Ostberg M-Sport Ford +54.3s
5. Dani Sordo Citroen +1m00.4s
6. Andreas Mikkelsen VW +1m27.8s
7. Jari-Matti Latvala VW +2m00.8s
8. Martin Prokop Czech Ford +3m54.1s
9. Michal Kosciuszko Lotos Ford +5m07.3s
10. Elfyn Evans M-Sport Ford +5m14.3s