Citroen's Sebastien Loeb snatched the lead this afternoon on the Jordan Rally, the third round in the 2010 World Rally Championship.
Loeb began the second day more 30 seconds behind Jari-Matti Latvala, but he closed the gap to 4.7 seconds going into the mid-day halt, thanks to his better position on the road. The Frenchman then continued to push on the repeat loop, posting his third fastest time of the day in SS11, enough to put him in the joint lead with his Ford rival, before he pulled away in SS12.
Loeb eventually concluded the leg with a 27.7 second cushion over Latvala, while Sebastien Ogier moved up into second in the final stage, and is 24.6 seconds adrift.
"I am quite happy with my performance today but I knew that I needed at least a lead of 30 seconds to take into the last day," Loeb said. "I tried to push really hard and I don't know if I could have done any better than that."
"I have been quite pleased with my performance today," Latvala added. "It was good experience for me to take on the role that nobody wanted today [as road sweeper], but I'm happy to let someone else take over for tomorrow. I thought tactics would come into play from those behind to make me start first tomorrow, but it didn't happen.
"I know my first priority is to ensure I finish but sometimes you need to take risks and I would really like to win. It's possible to catch the guys ahead if everything goes perfectly. I'll keep the pressure on during the morning loop and see how things stand then."
Petter Solberg meanwhile is fourth in his privately entered Citroen C4 WRC, 15.5 seconds off Latvala after struggling again in the long 41.45 kilometre Jordan River test, SS13.
"I don't know what it is with that stage, I just can't get the speed – there's too much oversteer," Petter moaned. "The lack of traction and my rhythm is not correct. I don't know why. I will have to look into what it is."
Dani Sordo rounds out the top five, just 5.6 seconds behind 'Hollywood', while Britain's Matthew Wilson is sixth, albeit over 4 minutes further back.
"I'm happy with the way things have gone today," said Sordo. "I tried to push hard in that last stage."