Sebastien Loeb has extended his lead on the second morning of Rally Cyprus to hold a lead of more than a minute at the mid-day service.
Loeb lost time to the chasing pack through the first two stages of the morning but was able to bounce back to take victory on SS9, despite the fact his run through Orkontas wasn't without problems.
“I had a spin and I stalled in the stage and lost about five seconds,” he said. “I didn't take any risks, but it is quite a fight out there.”
Loeb's advantage now is just over 68secs over the Ford of Mikko Hirvonen, after the Ford man managed to battle ahead of Dani Sordo with the quickest time through SS8. Hirvonen had also taken time out of the Spaniard in SS7 and will go into the afternoon with an advantage of just over ten seconds over the third placed man.
Hirvonen's Ford team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala had started the day with the quickest time on SS7 but he then made an error on the run through Pano Panagia and went off the road. Although the youngster was able to eventually get back on course with the aid of some spectators, he lost more than 20 minutes and has plummeted out of the top 20.
“There was an error in my notes and I was too fast into a left hander that went into a right hander,” he said. “We went off into a drop at the side of the road and there were no spectators around. I had to run for about a kilometre to find some spectators to help us get out.
“It has been a big disaster. We have lost a lot of points and this is a big disaster for our challenge for the Manufacturers' Championship.”
Latvala's problem means Petter Solberg now lies in a lonely fourth after Sebastien Ogier, who had been involved in a battle with 'Hollywood' during day one, suffered an issue with his windscreen wipers in SS8 and rolled his Citroen Junior Team C4 – losing more than two minutes to slip down to seventh, with Matthew Wilson and Evgeny Novikov both moving ahead of the Frenchman.
Conrad Rautenbach holds the final points-scoring position in eighth, ahead of Federico Villagra and Khalid Al Qassimi.
In the PWRC, Armindo Araujo continues to lead but is coming under pressure from points leader Patrik Sandell, who took almost 20 seconds out his lead on the final stage of the morning. Sandell will now go into the afternoon just 13.2secs behind while third placed Nasser Al-Attiyah and fourth placed Toshi Arai also showed impressive pace during the morning. Simone Campedelli however dropped down the order after rear-diff failure on Mitsubishi left him with only front-wheel drive for most of the morning.
Martin Prokop continues to lead in the Junior World Rally Championship but has seen his advantage over Michal Kosciuszko cut to 1min 42.2secs after struggling with his Citroen C2 S1600 during the morning. Kosciuszko had started the day over three and a half minutes behind. Aaron Burkart continues to run third but is well off the pace following his issues on day one.
The action resumes at 15.17 local time with the 30.94km run through Xyliatos, which will be the longest stage of the day.