Mads Ostberg has edged ahead on Rally Finland after four dramatic stages on Friday morning saw the Ford driver take a slender lead over championship leader Sebastien Ogier.

The Qatar M-Sport WRT driver sat third overnight but moved into top spot when he went second fastest behind Mikko Hirvonen's Citroen on the opening test of the day.

Although he then slipped behind Ogier on the following stage, the fastest time on the penultimate test of the morning gave the Norwegian an advantage he was then able to hold onto after the first run through Lankamaa; the longest test tackled by crews so far this weekend.

"There has been a really good battle today and I think we have done a good job so far," Ostberg said. "We've been quite relaxed and have just been really enjoying the driving. The speed has also been very good so I am pleased with that. It is one of the closest battles that I can remember in a long time!

"At the moment, we are on the safe side and not taking any big risks. But I understand that if I want to keep up with [S?bastien] Ogier, and really fight for this victory, then I might have to find a bit more. At the moment I am losing a bit of time whenever I am in doubt and we're backing off the pace a bit too much.

"We will see this afternoon if we need to change that or if we can continue how we have been. We have more speed to give, it's just a case of whether we need to use it."

The time lost to stage winner Ogier - who admitted he was driving with one eye on the championship - on SS10 enabled the Volkswagen man to close to within 0.8secs of the lead ahead of the afternoon loop, which features a return run through the four morning stages and a second blast through the short Killeri Super Special test.

Having lost time on the opening day, Hirvonen moved up to third place with a solid morning despite raising concerns about his pacenotes, while overnight leader Thierry Neuville was unable to maintain his position out front as he slipped down to fourth.

"We took it steadily this morning so it's good to see that we're not too far off the pace," he said. "I was much more careful than I was yesterday - making sure the pacenotes were right and also lacking a bit of confidence on the slippery stages this morning.

"But the car still feels great. I know where I can make up some time this afternoon and I can concentrate on pushing a bit more. Of course I think everyone will be pushing, but the most important thing for us is to gain experience and prove our speed. A podium would be nice, but there is a long way to go."

Juho Hanninen had held fifth until broken suspension forced him out after SS8, which in turn promoted Kris Meeke up into an impressive fifth.

Meeke however was left angered on SS8 when he became stuck behind Evgeny Novikov after the Russian damaged his car after colliding head-on with a pile of wood on the side of the road. Running behind the Ford driver, Meeke was left with a damaged windscreen and then picked up a puncture that again left him running without a spare for the remainder of the morning.

Meeke briefly dropped to sixth as a result but fought his way back ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen's VW by the end of SS10.

"Some boys need to learn some lessons, it's not a little boys game," Meeke said after SS9. "He needs to think more. I broke my wheel trying to get past him, I couldn't see anything, the windscreen is destroyed.

"When I'm in the stage with nobody in front I'm really, really enjoying it," he then added after stage ten. "The other guys know the lie of the land but this stage is around the other way. Again we have to manage with no spare wheel after our puncture. I'm in a Citroen so everything is good."

Behind Mikkelsen, Jarkko Nikara, Dani Sordo, Martin Prokop and WRC2 leader Jari Ketomaa round out the top ten.

Novikov's issue means he now sits more than five minutes off the pace in 15th place, while PG Andersson also lost time when a broken differential on the opening stage forced him to compete with front-wheel drive only during the morning loop. Jari-Matti Latvala meanwhile rejoined under Rally 2 but remains well down the order in 70th place.

In WRC2, Ketomaa now leads by more than minute ahead of Robert Kubica and Hayden Paddon after mechanical issues sidelines Elfyn Evans, while Keith Cronin took the lead in WRC3 after Alistair Fisher crashed out of top spot.

Andreas Amberg meanwhile leads the JWRC, with overnight leader Sander P?rn having slipped back to third.

Rally Finland: Overall standings after Stage 10 (Top ten):

1. Mads Ostberg Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC 1h 01m 39.8s M
2. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +00m 00.8s M
3. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +00m 07.5s M
4. Thierry Neuville Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 11.4s M
5. Kris Meeke Abu Dhabi Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +00m 57.1s M
6. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +01m 03.0s M
7. Jarkko Nikara MINI John Cooper Works WRC +01m 27.4s
8. Dani Sordo Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +01m 45.8s M
9. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +02m 15.8s M
10. Jari Ketomaa Ford Fiesta R5 +03m 23.6s WRC2


11. Robert Kubica Citroen DS3 RRC +04m 28.1s WRC2
12. Hayden Paddon Skoda Fabia S2000 +04m 36.7s WRC2
15. Evgeny Novikov Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +05m 27.7s M
26. PG Andersson Ford Fiesta RS WRC +08m 22.6s
70. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +20m 38.2s M o

WRC2 standings after Stage 10 (Top 3):

1. Jari Ketomaa Ford Fiesta R5 1h 05m 03.4s WRC2
2. Robert Kubica Citroen DS3 RRC +01m 04.5s WRC2
3. Hayden Paddon Skoda Fabia S2000 +01m 13.1s WRC2

WRC3 standings after Stage 10 (Top 3):

1. Keith Cronin Citroen DS3 R3T 1h 10m 03.1s WRC3
2. Jussi Vainionp?? Citroen DS3 R3T +01m 18.6s WRC3
3. Simone Campadelli Citroen DS3 R3T +01m 21.0s WRC3

JWRC standings after Stage 10 (Top 3):

1. Andreas Amberg Ford Fiesta R2 1h 12m 14.9s JWRC
2. Pontus Tidemand Ford Fiesta R2 +00m 24.4s JWRC
3. Sander P?rn Ford Fiesta R2 +00m 33.2s JWRC

Notable retirements:

After SS4. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC Suspension M o

SS8. Alistair Fisher Citroen DS3 R3T Accident WRC3
After SS9. Juho Hanninen Ford Fiesta RS WRC Suspension
SS10. Elfyn Evans Ford Fiesta R5 Mechanical WRC2

*denotes due to re-start under the Rally 2 regulations

all times unofficial