Sebastien Ogier has reclaimed the lead of the Rally of Portugal from Jari-Matti Latvala at the halfway point of day two.
Ogier had relinquished first place at the end of the opening day because he was unwilling to run first on the road this morning, so slowed and dropped to fourth. That strategy paid off this morning, as the Citroen driver had sufficient pace to turn his overnight 16.7-second deficit to Latvala into a 6.9sec lead over the Ford by the end of the loop.
"For sure it was a disadvantage to be first, so we managed to take a small gap on this one, but there's still not a big difference between everybody," said Ogier. "We'll continue like this, try to avoid a puncture and see what happens."
Latvala felt it was only on Loule, the final stage of the loop, that his road position had really hurt his chances. The Finn dropped 12.5sec to Ogier on that stage alone.
"On the first one we lost 10 seconds to Ogier and [Sebastien] Loeb, then Mikko [Hirvonen] had a puncture and Loeb lost some time in the dust, so that was OK for us," said Latvala. "The third one was the most slippy and the worst for us. At the end there was fresh gravel and it was really, really slippery – like the ball bearings in Australia."
Sebastien Loeb is still in contention despite falling back - and becoming enraged - when he had to run in Mikko Hirvonen's dust on SS9 after the Ford stopped to change a puncture. The world champion is 30.7s off the lead.
"The only thing I can do is try to close the gap on Jari-Matti," said Loeb. "That was maybe the last opportunity to make a big difference. We'll try our best."
Hirvonen is two minutes behind in fourth and now driving cautiously, while Matthew Wilson holds a narrow advantage over Stobart Ford team-mate Mads Ostberg in their battle for fifth.
After his puncture delay on Friday, Kimi Raikkonen (Ice 1 Citroen) has regained ground and is catching Armindo Araujo's S2000 Mini for seventh. Petter Solberg – who suffered no fewer than four punctures yesterday – is now a distant 13th but won SS9 in the Solberg Citroen..
Leading positions after SS10:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Sebastien Ogier Citroen 2h11m59.9s
2. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 6.9s
3. Sebastien Loeb Citroen + 30.7s
4. Mikko Hirvonen Ford + 2m17.9s
5. Matthew Wilson Stobart Ford + 3m37.3s
6. Henning Solberg Stobart Ford + 3m42.9s
7. Armindo Araujo Italia Mini + 6m27.7s
8. Kimi Raikkonen Ice 1 Citroen + 6m35.6s
9. Federico Villagra Munchi's Ford + 6m51.7s
10. Khalid Al Qassimi Abu Dhabi Ford + 7m57.8s