Petter Solberg will head into day two of the Rally New Zealand 1.4sec ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala, with Sebastien Ogier and Dani Sordo also close behind.
Former champion Solberg returned his self-run Citroen to the front by winning the final full-length stage of the day. He was only fifth on this evening's asphalt superspecial in Auckland, but his rivals only trimmed a few fractions from his advantage.
As well as having Latvala's Ford just 1.4sec behind him, Solberg is only 3.9sec clear of equal superspecial winner Ogier (Citroen Junior), with Sordo 8.7sec down on Solberg in the second factory Citroen.
Sebastien Loeb shared joint fastest time in Auckland with Ogier as he continued his recovery charge after damaging his Citroen's door in an impact with a bridge this morning. He is 1m19.8s away from the lead in seventh, two places behind title rival Mikko Hirvonen (Ford), who had a quiet opening day.
Jari Ketomaa has established a 22sec lead over championship leader Xevi Pons in the S2000 battle, while national champion and Pirelli Star Driver Hayden Paddon is dominating the Production class after close rivals Richard Mason and Toshi Arai hit trouble. Paddon is now two minutes clear of second-placed Emma Gilmour.
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Petter Solberg Citroen 1h35m51.3s
2. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 1.4s
3. Sebastien Ogier Citroen + 3.9s
4. Dani Sordo Citroen + 8.7s
5. Mikko Hirvonen Ford + 20.2s
6. Matthew Wilson Ford + 1m09.7s
7. Sebastien Loeb Citroen + 1m19.8s
8. Henning Solberg Ford + 1m45.3s
9. Jari Ketomaa Ford + 4m18.0s
10. Xevi Pons Ford + 4m40.5s