"I had a challenging day,” Meeke noted. “However, if I had really pushed myself to the limit risking everything maybe I would have been on a similar time to Dani, but then I know he is going to pull away tomorrow as I don't have the experience of the roads.
“I said for once use the wise head and try to relax and go out to learn the rally. Certainly the most challenging part of the rally is over and the last stage was the most difficult stage I have ever driven.
“Tomorrow is all about tarmac driving, finding the rhythm there and trying to find tenths of seconds as the stage times will be separated by a lot less. Today with the dust and the rocks falling onto the road it made it very, very difficult."
M-Sport Stobart Ford's Mads Ostberg and Henning Solberg hold positions 7 and 8, the former slowed by differential problems, while the latter has been hindered by intercom problems.
“It has felt like a very long day but that last stage was unbelievable!” Ostberg said. “We could barely see a thing so I tried to be sensible and keep the speed down but the car took so many knocks. We had to make do with the Tarmac differential which made everything a lot harder than it could have been as the handling was all over the place.
“We changed the dampers and springs at service which helped for the second loop but then we still struggled with the pre-load on the rear diff. This afternoon was definitely a step forward compared to what everything felt like this morning and I'm happy to be in this position after a hard day. I didn't think I would say this but I'm actually happy to have got today's stages out the way and I look forward to moving onto full asphalt roads tomorrow.”
Evgeny Novikov and Matt Wilson round out the top ten, with SWRC class leader, Nasser Al-Attiyah eleventh, just one second up on Juho Hanninen.
Patrik Flodin leads the PWRC - the other support category - 35.9 seconds ahead of Michal Kosciuszko.
In terms of retirements, SS1 claimed both Petter Solberg and Ken Block - Solberg ripped a wheel off, while Block damaged his steering. F1 2007 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen joined them on the sidelines in SS3, stopping with reported engine problems.
The action now continues on Saturday with 143.54 competitive kilometres on the bill, comprising two loops of three stages. Unlike today's mainly gravel tests though, the final two days are completely on tarmac and as such overnight the cars will be converted into full asphalt trim.
SS7, the 45.97 km-run through El Priorat 1 - the longest test of the event - begins at 09.40 hours local time [08.40 hours UK time].
Rally de Espana: Overall standings after Stage 6 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Loeb
Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 1hour 44mins 06.3secs
2. Jari-Matti Latvala
Ford Abu Dhabi WRT Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 30.6secs
3. Mikko Hirvonen
Ford Abu Dhabi WRT Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 54.2secs
4. Sebastien Ogier
Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +01mins 45.3secs
5. Dani Sordo
MINI WRT John Cooper Works +02mins 02.7secs
6. Kris Meeke
MINI WRT John Cooper Works +02mins 52.8secs
7. Mads Ostberg
M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC +03mins 03.1secs
8. Henning Solberg
M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC +03mins 11.6secs
9. Evgeny Novikov
Citroen DS3 WRC +04mins 24.8secs
10. Matthew Wilson
M-Sport Stobart Ford Fiesta RS WRC +05mins 16.8secs
11. Nasser Al-Attiyah
Ford Fiesta S2000 +05mins 50.0secs
12. Juho Hanninen
Skoda Fabia S2000 +05mins 51.0secs
13. Dennis Kuipers
FERM Powertools Ford Fiesta RS WRC +05mins 51.7secs
14. Craig Breen
Ford Fiesta S2000 +06mins 14.6secs
15. Martin Prokop
Ford Fiesta S2000 +06mins 18.1secs
16. Khalid Al-Qassimi
Team Abu Dhabi Fiesta RS WRC +06mins 50.6secs
19. Peter van Merksteijn
Van Merksteijn Citroen DS3 WRC +07mins 52.4secs
21. Patrik Flodin
Subaru Impreza +08mins 56.9secs
23. Federico Villagra
Munchi's Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +09mins 35.9secs
SWRC standings after Stage 6 (Top 3):
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah
Ford Fiesta S2000 1hour 49mins 56.3secs
2. Juho Hanninen
Skoda Fabia S2000 +00mins 01.0secs
3. Craig Breen
Ford Fiesta S2000 +00mins 24.6secs
PWRC standings after Stage 6 (Top 3):
1. Patrik Flodin
Subaru Impreza 1hour 53mins 03.2secs
2. Michal Kosciuszko
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +00mins 35.9secs
3. Benito Guerra
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +04mins 14.6secs
SS1. Petter Solberg
PSWRT Citroen DS3 WRC Broken wheel
SS1. Ken Block
Monster WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Broken steering
SS3. Kimi Raikkonen
ICE1 Racing Citroen DS3 WRC Engine
all times unofficial