Sebastien Ogier will take a 21-second lead into the final day of the Rally of Portugal, having matched the chasing Sebastien Loeb's pace on the second afternoon.
With Ogier (Citroen Junior) running first on the road today, Loeb (Citroen) had been able to close in. But after slashing the gap between them from 46sec to 23sec on the morning loop, Loeb could not make the same gains in the afternoon, with Ogier actually extending his lead on one stage.
"We've tried to push all day," Ogier said. "It was more difficult than yesteday but I'm happy. We were first on the road but didn't lose a lot of time. I think it's going to be very hard tomorrow, we will try until the end."
Loeb admitted that he was going to find it hard to close a 21s gap with just four full-length stages on Sunday.
"[The gap] is quite a lot. But today was hard and Ogier was running very well," said Loeb. "He was doing the same stage times and not damaging his tires. I was too cautious with the tires on the first stage and lost a bit too much.
"He's doing very well and we are only second on the road tomorrow, so it will not be easy to make the difference."
Dani Sordo struggled to keep his tyres intact this afternoon and fell away from the lead battle, dropping a minute off the pace and ending the loop in fourth behind Petter Solberg. A battle is now brewing for the final podium spot between Solberg, Sordo and Ford's Mikko Hirvonen, the trio covered by 21.7sec at the end of the leg.