BP Ford Abu Dhabi team leader Mikko Hirvonen has seen his Rally Poland lead cut to just 3 seconds this morning following the opening loop.

Hirvonen, who began the second leg with an 8.9 second cushion, actually managed to increase his lead to just over 10 seconds in the first test of the day, when he was 'best of the rest' through Danowo 1, 0.7 seconds off the stage winner, SupeRally re-starter, Sebastien Loeb.

However, the Finn struggled somewhat in SS9 and SS10, and could only post the seventh best time in Gawliki and the sixth quickest effort in Wydminy.

Subsequently his lead was cut right back and now his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala and more significantly, Citroen's Dani Sordo, are both that much closer and both that much more of a threat.

"It has been a proper fight this morning," said Hirvonen. "Sordo is attacking hard in third, so Jari-Matti has to drive flat out to keep ahead of him and I have to drive at maximum to stay in front of Jari-Matti.

"I've struggled a little with being first through the stages, which I didn't expect. The road surface is damp with hard mud on top after the rain and I'm breaking the surface up to leave better grip for those behind. I made adjustments between the stages to make the car set-up softer to obtain better grip."

Jari-Matti Latvala meanwhile was third quickest in the opening stage and then fourth and fifth in the next two.

Despite not wanting to put his team-mate under pressure and fight for the win, he was left with no choice as Sordo was on a charge, winning SS9, and closing the gap between them from nearly 30 seconds overnight to just over 15 heading into the mid-day halt.

"I've had no choice but to drive hard this morning," Latvala confirmed. "Sordo is pushing hard and my goal is to keep him behind me to preserve our one-two on the leaderboard, so I had to keep my pace high as well.

"I don't want to battle with Mikko or put pressure on him but Sordo is making me. If, in trying to stay in front of Sordo, I move ahead of Mikko then at least that still keeps Ford in the top two places."

"We dropped a bit of time on the first test, but went well on the other two which both exceeded 30km in length," Sordo added.

"I feel confident with my C4 WRC, but today's roads are even quicker than those we visited yesterday. We'll try not to drop any time this afternoon. In fact, it would nice if we could claw back a few more seconds."

Further down the order, Sebastien Ogier is now fourth, having gained two spots in the 30.09 kilometre Wydminy 1 stage, when he leapfrogged both the Solberg brothers and set the third best time for the second stage in succession.

"Yesterday's run did a great deal for our confidence," said Ogier. "This morning, I felt particularly comfortable from the start, and that meant I was able to push a little harder. My aim was to catch at least one of the Solbergs, and we ended up passing both of them. There's still a long way to go, but we will try to keep up the same sort of pace."

Henning Solberg is next up, 11.7 seconds back in his Stobart Ford Focus, while his brother Petter dropped two places to P6 following a poor time in the last stage before service at Mikolajki.

"I am very happy with the car and it's working very well today," said Henning. "There's still a long way to go, but we are going in the right direction.

"It was good to get ahead of Petter but now I have to get past Ogier. I'm driving fast but I still want to get fourth place so I need to go even harder. I drove better on the second pass yesterday so I have to do that again today."

Of the rest, Britain's Matthew Wilson lies seventh, albeit a minute or so down on Petter, followed by local hero and three-time Rally Poland winner, Krzysztof Holowczyc and then Conrad Rautenbach and Mads Ostberg.

"The car is perfect. I spoke to Malcolm Wilson last night and he advised me to be more precise and less aggressive and it is working very well today," reflected Holowczyc. "I am really enjoying the fast stages, but I am a bit too slow in some of the technical parts.

"The atmosphere is amazing. When you see all of the people on the last five kilometres of the last stage it is unbelievable. I have never seen so many people before and I am really taking power from them. When you see that it makes you push harder."

In the Junior World Rally Championship category, Michal Kosciuszko now leads in his Suzuki Swift S1600, after Kevin Abbring lost time in SS10. Kosciuszko returned to service E with a 17.6 second cushion, while his chief championship rival, Martin Prokop remains third.

There were no major retirements this morning, and after going out on day one, Sebastien Loeb and Evgeny Novikov both took advantage of the SupeRally and rejoined the fold. Loeb is now up to 20th, with Novikov in 16th.

"We found a good pace," said Loeb, who was quickest in two of the morning's three stages. "There's little more we can do now than make sure we reach the finish to notch up some Manufacturers' points. It's also a good way to restore our confidence."

For the record, Andreas Mikkelsen was unable to continue in his privately entered Skoda Fabia WRC today after engine problems late on Friday.

The action now continues at 13.49 hours local time, when all three of this morning's tests will be repeated to conclude the second leg.