Sebastien Ogier dominated the opening morning of Rally Italy, quickly establishing a 20-second lead.
The Volkswagen driver won two of the morning's three stages as he pulled away from Mikko Hirvonen's Citroen. Ogier's VW teammate Jari-Matti Latvala could in theory be right on the championship leader's tail, having won SS2 and been just 0.3 second slower than the Frenchman on SS3. But a puncture for Latvala on SS1 means he is 1m55s back in seventh overall.
M-Sport Ford's Evgeny Novikov initially challenged Hirvonen for second, only to roll out near the start of the second stage. His teammate Mads Ostberg then took up the chase, completing the loop just 4.4sec behind Hirvonen.
The second Citroen of Dani Sordo is another 7.3sec back in fourth, with Thierry Neuville a further 8.1sec adrift for M-Sport after a spin on SS3.
Robert Kubica holds a commanding 50sec lead in WRC2, despite a high-speed spin on the last stage of the morning.
Leading positions after SS3:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Sebastien Ogier VW 39m58.6s
2. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen + 20.5s
3. Mads Ostberg M-Sport Ford + 24.9s
4. Dani Sordo Citroen + 32.2s
5. Thierry Neuville M-Sport Ford + 40.3s
6. Andreas Mikkelsen VW + 55.7s
7. Jari-Matti Latvala VW + 1m54.5s
8. Martin Prokop Czech Ford + 2m35.1s
9. Michal Kosciuszko Lotos Ford + 2m53.7s
10. Elfyn Evans M-Sport Ford + 3m02.8s