Jari-Matti Latvala still leads the Wales Rally GB following the opening loop on Sunday - but Sebastien Loeb has closed right up on the Finn.
Latvala, who began the final leg 7.3 seconds in front, lost 5.1 seconds in SS16, the 27.96 km Rheola 1 test after a 'couple of moments'. Although he minimised the damaged in the next stage, Port Tablot 1, the BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT #2 still saw his cushion cut by another 0.8 seconds. He now leads by just 1.4 seconds.
"It is looking interesting now," Latvala admitted. "I lost a little time at the start but my confidence increased at the end.
"The second run will be the hardest part as the surface will be more polished. There is more grip this morning however, strangely enough."
Loeb, who was quickest in both stages, confirmed he is definitely now pushing to try and take the victory. Indeed he has an extra reason to want to win in GB, as he has never stood on the top step of the podium in Wales.
"It is a really good fight and I am trying really hard," said the Frenchman. "I always I start faster but Jari-Matti catches me up towards the end. I am following him line for line – so if he goes into a ditch then I go into a ditch!"
Further down the order meanwhile there have been no changes to the top ten, with Dani Sordo still comfortably third, followed by Petter Solberg, P-G Andersson and Henning Solberg - the latter having seen the gap to P5 increase from 3.2 seconds to 11.3.
"We want to keep fifth place," said Andersson. "I took some seconds off Henning on the last stage and I just try and keep the car on the road. We have taken the rear anti-roll bar out to make the cars suspension as soft as possible, just to get maximum grip."
Toni Gardemeister remains on course for the final drivers' point in eighth, with Mikko Hirvonen and Matthew Wilson ninth and tenth.
The Wales Rally GB now concludes with a repeat of both of this morning's stages, before the official finish in Cardiff at 14.56 hours.