Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier dominated the repeat loop on Rally de Portugal this afternoon and after winning all three stages he will now take a 34.8 second advantage into the final leg.
Ogier began the second day 4.4 seconds up on Dani Sordo. However the Spaniard took himself out of the equation early on, when he went off the road in the opening test, SS6.
Ogier then ended the morning loop 14.1 seconds up on his team-mate, Jari-Matti Latvala, before a massive push in the afternoon saw him more than double his cushion. Indeed he took 4.6 seconds out of the Finn in SS9, before gaining 3.6 seconds in SS10 and 12.5 in the final test of the day.
The Frenchman, who has been struggling after a bout of 'flu pre-event, now looks poised to claim his third win on the trot and further extend his lead in the battle for the 2013 WRC Drivers' championship.
“It was a good day for us, but I really gave my all today,” Ogier said. “My team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala and Dani Sordo put me under an awful lot of pressure this morning. If we make it across the finishing line tomorrow and are still in the front, it will have been a perfect rally for us.
“Today it was really hard work out there. I'm already feeling better today than I did yesterday, especially this afternoon, even though I'm still not at one hundred per cent fit. And tomorrow will be probably the toughest day of the rally. I don't have to win at any cost, but on the other hand I'm one hundred per cent competitive and I always want to cross the line first.”
Latvala meanwhile also had a positive day, winning the first two stages this morning, and then taking a further three top-two times.
“I really enjoyed today – the stages were great fun,” said the Finn. “The tracks were quite difficult and tough on the car, especially the tyres. We had a nice duel with Mikko Hirvonen and managed to considerably extend our lead, even though we lost a bit of time in the last stage of the day because of a puncture.
“To be honest, I spent most of today looking behind me instead of in front of me. Of course I'd like to fight it out with Sebastien, but given that the season didn't get off to such a good start for me, I'm more worried about securing a place on the podium than winning outright. It's also important for the team that we both make it to the finishing line to get Volkswagen as many points as possible in the constructors' championship.”