Citroen Junior Team's Sebastien Ogier has extended his lead on Rally de Portugal this afternoon and now heads the pack by over 25 seconds.

Ogier, who won two out of the three stages this morning and who went into the mid-day service at the Algarve Stadium with a 1.8 second cushion over fellow Citroen man Dani Sordo, laid down the gauntlet on the repeat loop.

Indeed he began by setting the pace in Santa Clara 2, 5.8 seconds up on his Spanish rival. He then went quickest again in SS6 and SS7, to end the day comfortably out front.

"We pushed really hard throughout the day, while looking after the tyre wear quite well," Ogier said. "The Citro?n C4 WRC feels perfect on these roads. Our goal now is to defend our position.

"Opening the road tomorrow will be a big disadvantage, maybe even more than it was today, but I like having to push! We can't back off in any way as the last few events have proved just how quickly a gap can grow or shrink."

Sordo meanwhile remained pretty much in touch until the final stage when he overshot a junction and lost around 10-15 seconds.

"My tyres were very worn and I went straight on when I had to change direction," Sordo explained. "We lost a little time but we hung on to our second place. It won't be easy tomorrow as we have to fend off three drivers who'll have better road conditions."

Sordo's team-mate Sebastien Loeb is next up, 18.2 seconds off P2, having moved up from fifth to third in the final stage.

"It's been a difficult day mainly because we had to do the sweeping," Loeb said. "Ogier's driven very well and he's built up a good lead. We'll try and catch him tomorrow. There's still a long way to go in the rally, and the second stage will give us a good idea of who's going to come out on top."

BP Ford Abu Dhabi's Mikko Hirvonen and Petter Solberg round out the top five, the former only 2 seconds off Loeb.

"I was in no rush to catch the guys ahead because I knew third or fourth tonight would give me a good position in the start order tomorrow," Hirvonen said. "I struggled with my tyres on the final two stages and I expect that tomorrow's roads could be even harder for them. Conditions this morning were OK, but the roads were really abrasive this afternoon and it was tough on the tyres.

"I believe I can fight for a top position. We'll know more after the first stage in the morning, because we'll know exactly how much the conditions will disadvantage the cars at the front throughout the rest of the day."

Further down the order, Jari-Matti Latvala is a somewhat lonely sixth, around 15 seconds off the duel for third and a similar amount up on Henning Solberg in seventh.

"This afternoon was harder for the rubber and I lost the tread on my rear tyres on the final stage," Latvala said. "I knew it was going to happen before the start of the test so I eased my pace.

"I'm hard and aggressive on tyres and I think tomorrow will be even more difficult so I need to find a calmer rhythm. Perhaps I need to be gentler in my braking because I want to move up the leaderboard and I can't do that if I damage my tyres," he added.

Matt Wilson, Mads Ostberg and Kimi Raikkonen fill positions 8 through to 10, with Federico Villarga eleventh and Khalid Al-Qassimi 12th.

"Even though the roads were a bit rougher this afternoon, I was able to go a bit quicker," Raikkonen stated. "I'm pleased with how the first day has gone. We're continuing to improve and the times are gradually getting better. Now we just need to carry on like this tomorrow."

In the SWRC, Jari Ketomaa now leads, 23.2 seconds up on fellow Ford Fiesta S2000 man, Nasser Al-Attiyah, who lost the class lead in the final stage of the day. In the JWRC there was also drama in SS7, with Thierry Neuville crashing out and throwing away a 20-second cushion. Aaron Burkart inherits the Junior lead - 10.5 seconds up on Yeray Lemes.

The action now continues on Saturday and day two includes 135 competitive kilometres split over two loops of three stages. SS8, the 26.20 kilometre-run through Almodovar 1, begins at 09.27 hours local time.

Rally de Portugal: Overall standings after Stage 7 / Day 1 (Top 10):

1. Sebastien Ogier Citroen Junior Team C4 WRC 1hour 20mins 34.4secs M
2. Dani Sordo Citroen Total WRT C4 WRC +00mins 26.6secs M
3. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT C4 WRC +00mins 48.8secs M
4. Mikko Hirvonen BP Ford Abu Dhabi Focus RS WRC +00mins 46.9secs M
5. Petter Solberg PSWRT Citroen C4 WRC +00mins 49.9secs A8
6. Jari-Matti Latvala BP Ford Abu Dhabi Focus RS WRC +01mins 02.8secs M
7. Henning Solberg Stobart VK Ford Focus WRC +01mins 20.7secs M
8. Matthew Wilson Stobart VK Ford Focus WRC +01mins 54.6secs M
9. Mads Ostberg Adapta Subaru Impreza WRC +02mins 37.3secs A8
10. Kimi Raikkonen Citroen Junior Team C4 WRC +03mins 18.1secs M

SWRC Standings after Stage 7 / Day 1 (Top 3):

1. Jari Ketomaa Ford Fiesta S2000 1hour 25mins 00.5secs S
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah Ford Fiesta S2000 +00mins 23.2secs S
3. P-G Andersson Skoda Fabia S2000 +00mins 36.8secs S

JWRC Standings after Stage 7 / Day 1 (Top 3):

1. Aaron Burkart Suzuki Swift S1600 1hour 29mins 16.1secs J
2. Yeray Lemes Renault Clio S1600 +00mins 10.5secs J
3. Kevin Abbring Renault Clio R3 +04mins 23.0secs J

all times unofficial