Dani Sordo remains ahead of Citroen team-mate Sebastien Loeb going into day two of the Catalunya Rally.
Loeb has trimmed Sordo's 4.8sec midday lead to a gap of just 1.6sec at the end of the leg, but the Spaniard has managed to stay in front for now – although team orders are likely to be applied later in the event.
"It's a good day for me, Seb is coming really fast but we'll see tomorrow," said Sordo. "This afternoon was more difficult for the tyres because the pressures were coming up and there was some understeer, but it was OK."
Having made a slow start to the rally, Loeb was much happier with his Citroen's performance this afternoon and closed on his teammate with a pair of stage wins.
"We're still very close to the first place, and the main thing is that it's not Mikko [Hirvonen] who is first," said Loeb."I was struggling with the settings in the morning and I was not confident, but in the afternoon the car was perfect."
Loeb's title rival Mikko Hirvonen has seen his pace go in the opposite direction – as he fell away from the Citroens as the day went on, having split them on SS1. He is still third, but now 34.2sec away from Sordo, and disappointed with his position.
"I'm thinking of the championship and second's what I need," said Hirvonen, who currently has a five point lead over Loeb. "If I had second here than second would be enough in GB as well. If I'm third, then I'm only going to be one point ahead, but that's OK, it will just be a really big fight in GB. So it's not perfect, but it's been a fairly good day."
Petter Solberg is 25sec behind Hirvonen in fourth, and pleased to be so close to the top three on his first rally with his self-run team's new Citroen C4.
"It was just the first stage this morning where we lost a lot of time," said Solberg. "Since then Mikko and I have been very, very close."
The second works Ford of Jari-Matti Latvala is still back in sixth, behind Citroen Junior's Sebastien Ogier, but Latvala was more upbeat about his pace by the end of the leg. "This afternoon we have been a lot closer to the top guys than we were this morning, so I am quite satisfied," he said.
Evgeny Novikov (Citroen Junior) and Matthew Wilson (Stobart Ford) complete the top eight at present, while Wilson's team-mate Henning Solberg has dropped behind Munchi's Ford's Federico Villagra in their tight battle for ninth after slowing to avoid hitting a dog.
In the Junior class, champion Martin Prokop has moved past early leader Hans Weijs and extended a 12s advantage.
Leading positions after day one:
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Dani Sordo Citroen 1h10m45.3s
2. Sebastien Loeb Citroen + 1.6s
3. Mikko Hirvonen Ford + 34.2s
4. Petter Solberg Citroen + 59.7s
5. Sebastien Ogier Citroen + 1m22.9s
6. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 1m36.7s
7. Evgeny Novikov Citroen + 3m11.0s
8. Matthew Wilson Ford + 3m28.8s
9. Federico Villagra Ford + 3m51.9s
10. Henning Solberg Ford + 3m58.7s