Citroen is set for a commanding 1-2 with Sebastien Ogier and Sebastien Loeb in the Rally of Portugal after a series of dramas for Ford at the end of day two.
Mikko Hirvonen had already dropped two minutes with a puncture this morning, but Jari-Matti Latvala remained close behind leader Ogier. A broken driveshaft then slowed Latvala on SS12 Vascao, and it was followed by a puncture on the subsequent Loule stage, which left Latvala over four minutes away from the lead as he finished the loop.
Loule was also disastrous for Hirvonen, who suffered broken suspension and fell to fifth, five minutes off the pace.
"The rear suspension just collapsed," said Hirvonen. "I really have no idea why. We didn't go off or wide anywhere, maybe there's just been some hard rock and it snapped, or it just broke on its own."
The issue allowed Loeb to catch Hirvonen on a stage for the second time today, but on this occasion Loeb had no complaints about Ford's handling of the incident, as Hirvonen swiftly pulled aside.
"I had some dust but this time he was really fair – suddenly I saw him on the side waiting while I passed," said Loeb. "Then I began to have the dust of Jari-Matti but he was far in front so there was nothing to do."
Ogier now leads Loeb by 37.6sec going into the final day, but is taking nothing for granted.
"For the moment it's perfect, but there are still 100km to go and we've seen a lot of problems for a lot of drivers," said Ogier. "I've tried to be safe with the tires and the car but it's not easy. Without problems it should be OK, but it's not finished."
Stobart Ford's Matthew Wilson is now up to fourth, between the works Fords, with the intra-team Stobart battle breaking up on Vascao when Henning Solberg was delayed with a puncture.
Armindo Araujo's brilliant run in the new S2000 Mini has come to an end. The car began to misfire and then picked up a puncture on SS11 and then stopped and retired on SS12.
Kimi Raikkonen (Ice 1 Citroen) and Federico Villagra (Munchi's Ford) are battling for seventh, while Petter Solberg (Solberg Citroen) has taken two stage wins this afternoon as his recovery drive brings him up to ninth.
Leading positions after SS13:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Sebastien Ogier Citroen 2h59m30.2s
2. Sebastien Loeb Citroen + 37.6s
3. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 4m14.6s
4. Matthew Wilson Stobart Ford + 5m26.8s
5. Mikko Hirvonen Ford + 5m32.5s
6. Henning Solberg Stobart Ford + 7m46.4s
7. Kimi Raikkonen Ice 1 Citroen + 8m55.2s
8. Federico Villagra Munchi's Ford + 9m10.0s
9. Petter Solberg Solberg Citroen + 11m27.1s
10. Dennis Kuipers Ferm Ford + 13m07.9s