Ford Abu Dhabi's Jari-Matti Latvala increased his lead on Rally Argentina this afternoon.
Latvala, who stormed to the top of the leaderboard this morning, winning all three tests to pull out a 12.3 second advantage, initially maintained his run of stage wins this afternoon, and he was quickest in SS5, the repeat-run through El Mirador-San Lorenzo.
Although he saw his margin cut back slightly in SS6, when he was 'only' third fastest, the Finn responded with the second best time in SS7, the repeat-run through El Condor-Cuesta Bianca, which allowed him to extend his cushion by 6.1 seconds. He will now go into day two with an 18.2 second advantage.
"After the recce I knew the asphalt [section in El Condor - SS4 / SS7] would make a difference – either in a good or bad way," Latvala said. "It was great for me. I lowered the ride height of the car again this afternoon for the mixed stage, but it was harder than this morning because of the ruts in the gravel.
"Temperatures were high this afternoon and I was worried about tyre wear. I tried not to lock the brakes to look after them. I will have pressure from those behind me tomorrow, but I wanted to be first in the start order to avoid the hanging dust early in the morning. Tomorrow's roads are soft and fast in a flat area and I'm looking forward to tackling them from the front."
Petter Solberg meanwhile, despite setting the pace in SS6, was unable to make any inroads into Latvala's lead and slipped further adrift in P2 in his privately entered Citroen DS3 WRC.
"I am really happy with today," said Solberg. "The tarmac sections were quite tricky but we did great on the gravel. As long as everything stays like it is we will push hard tomorrow, I can promise you that.
"We have no strategy, we will just go! It is great being here, the stages are good, the atmosphere is unbelievable and there are just so many spectators out there. I feel great about the 400th stage win [in SS6 too], and I hope for many, many more to come!"
Sebastien Ogier is next up, although he also lost ground and a spin in SS5 cost him around 5 seconds. He is now 10.6 seconds off 'silver' and 14.7 seconds up on Mikko Hirvonen in fourth.
"We were always on the pace even if we were not at our best on the asphalt," said Ogier. "We had a puncture this morning and I think I was maybe a bit over-cautious this afternoon. We're in a very good position for tomorrow. The second day is taking place on roads that suit me a lot better even if it'll be my first time racing on them. I hope that sweeping will help us a little. I have to find a good feeling right from the start so that I can push. I know we can win."