Petter Solberg has taken the lead of Rally Japan, while Sebastien Loeb is falling away in sixth place after five stages.
Despite still suffering with illness and getting a puncture near the end of SS4, Citroen privateer Solberg won the first two Friday stages, moving him onto the tail of Thursday evening leader Sebastien Ogier, and then taking him into a clear lead.
As the field heads for the first service, Solberg's advantage over works Citroen driver Ogier is up to 10.3sec, with Citroen Junior's Dani Sordo 2.2sec behind Ogier in third and fourth-placed Mikko Hirvonen (Ford) just 0.9sec down on the Spaniard.
Jari-Matti Latvala is 20sec off the lead in the second Ford in fifth, and 16.3sec clear of Loeb. The champion has lost time throughout the morning and although he felt some of the deficit was due to running first on the road, he was generally confused by his lack of pace.
"I was trying to push but I have no solution for that," said Loeb after SS3. "Maybe it's the road condition a bit. We'll have to check. We are very slow."
Henning Solberg (Stobart Ford) won the short SS5 and is just 7.3sec behind Loeb in seventh. His teammate Matthew Wilson, Munchi's Ford's Federico Villagra and Citroen Junior's Kimi Raikkonen complete the WRC field.
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Petter Solberg Citroen 36m56.1s
2. Sebastien Ogier Citroen + 10.3s
3. Dani Sordo Citroen + 12.5s
4. Mikko Hirvonen Ford + 13.4s
5. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 20.3s
6. Sebastien Loeb Citroen + 36.6s
7. Henning Solberg Ford + 43.9s
8. Matthew Wilson Ford + 1m25.9s
9. Federico Villagra Ford + 1m53.6s
10. Kimi Raikkonen Citroen + 2m11.4s