Sebastien Ogier kept the chasing Sebastien Loeb at bay through Saturday morning's stages in Sweden.
After establishing a half-minute cushion on Friday, Ogier kicked off day two with a stage win then relaxed his pace slightly, declaring that it was now "time to control, not to push." Nevertheless, Loeb's Citroen remained 25 seconds behind Ogier's VW. The World Champion had described his erstwhile team-mate as "unbeatable" after Friday's stages.
Fastest time on SS11 helped give Loeb more breathing space over Ogier's teammate Jari-Matti Latvala. The Finn took his first stage win for VW on SS10, Fredriksberg, but was then too cautious through Rammen, dropping 13.8sec behind Loeb and allowing Mads Ostberg to close to within 1.5sec.
Pontus Tidemand's star top-class debut came to an end on Saturday morning, as he had to park his Ford with engine problems. That elevated the "official" Qatar M-Sport Fords of Juho Hanninen and Thierry Neuville to sixth and seventh behind their team-mates Ostberg and Evgeny Novikov.
The fifth Qatar entry is now out after series returnee Matthew Wilson rolled. The Briton was back in 17th at the time after a trip into a snow bank on Friday morning.
Mikko Hirvonen was quickest on the short Hagfors Sprint before service, but is only 26th as he continues to recover from his day one crash.
Leading positions after SS12:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Sebastien Ogier VW 1h47m21.3s
2. Sebastien Loeb Citroen + 25.2s
3. Jari-Matti Latvala VW + 39.0s
4. Mads Ostberg Qatar M-Sport Ford + 40.5s
5. Evgeny Novikov Qatar M-Sport Ford + 1m25.3s
6. Juho Hanninen Qatar M-Sport Ford + 2m23.4s
7. Thierry Neuville Qatar M-Sport Ford + 2m32.0s
8. Henning Solberg M-Sport Ford + 4m16.0s
9. Martin Prokop Czech Ford + 6m12.8s
10. Dani Sordo Citroen + 7m26.9s