Citroen's Sebastien Loeb remained focused on his objective on day two of the Rally Japan - namely to take third place and sow up his fifth world title.
The Frenchman, who currently leads Mikko Hirvonen by 14 points, will go to Wales Rally GB ten points in front of the Finn, assuming they finish in the same positions in Sapporo on Sunday. That would put him out of reach, as even if Seb failed to score on the final round in the World Rally Championship and Mikko won, he would still end the year top as he has notched up more victories.
Loeb thus paced himself throughout Saturday's ten tests and while he did win one stage, he opted for caution whenever he deemed it prudent.
"It's no secret that I prefer competing to win. Today, though, it was necessary to keep a cool head. The forest tracks to the south of Sapporo were just as narrow as those we visited on Day 1, but they were faster, too, which means we ran a higher risk of making a mistake," he stated.
"Whenever I felt that the conditions were a little too treacherous, I didn't hesitate to brake earlier than normal. There's a great deal at stake here and I didn't want to risk throwing it all away.
"We just tried to stay focused on our objective which was to consolidate our third place, and I think we succeeded quite well. There is a little less than 100km of stages to come tomorrow. The goal we are aiming for is within reach, but we will need to stay concentrated until the very end."
Dani Sordo meanwhile, who was forced out with a turbo problem on Friday, re-started this morning under the SupeRally format and he set a number of good times as he hauled himself up from 63rd overnight to 18th post-SS20.
"Both crews accomplished the missions they were given today," Citroen boss Olivier Quesenl summed up. "Sébastien and Daniel [Elena] reinforced their position without taking any risks, and they now have a cushion of more than a minute and a half over the crew in fourth place.
"As for Dani and Marc [Marti], they succeeded in making the most of the free rein they were given to showcase the competitiveness of the C4 over this sort of terrain.
"I'm glad that today's 156km of stages are over. There are still 96.43km to come, however, and I have to admit that I can't wait for them to be behind us, too."