Sebastien Ogier stretched his Rally Argentina lead to 16.3 seconds over Sebastien Loeb by the end of Thursday's leg.
Ogier's Volkswagen was quickest on both the loop's stages, stretching away from the Citroens in the process. But the frustrated Loeb did not feel there was anything more to the deficit than an errant tyre choice on Citroen's part, as its hards proved less compliant than Ogier's softs amid unforeseen drizzle.
Ogier did not have a flawless run, completing the long Asochinga stage with a loss of pressure in a rear tire and some bodywork damage, but his lead was not jeopardized.
Mikko Hirvonen remains in contention. Although he has lost second place to Loeb, he is only 1.8sec behind his team-mate.
Jari-Matti Latvala was very happy with his pace as he took second to teammate Ogier on SS4, but ended the day peeved when a handbrake issue cost him time on SS5's hairpins, leaving him 41sec off the lead.
Mads Ostberg dropped out of fifth place when his M-Sport Ford broke a steering arm on the loop's first stage. But M-Sport still has a car in fifth as Evgeny Novikov moved past the third VW of Andreas Mikkelsen to take the place.
Myriad dramas for the top-class tailenders mean Dani Sordo is already back within 22sec of the top 10 after rolling his Citroen in the morning.
Leading positions after SS5:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Sebastien Ogier VW 1h57m14.1s
2. Sebastien Loeb Citroen + 16.3s
3. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen + 18.1s
4. Jari-Matti Latvala VW + 40.7s
5. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford + 1m37.7s
6. Andreas Mikkelsen VW + 1m55.1s
7. Thierry Neuville M-Sport Ford + 2m12.5s
8. Martin Prokop Czech Ford + 6m41.4s
9. Michal Kosciuszko Italia Mini + 9m48.3s
10. Gabriel Pozzo M-Sport Ford + 10m10.3s