Five stage wins from seven has seen Jari-Matti Latvala stride into the lead of the Rally Mexico as he capitalised fully on his advantageous road position, but Sebastien Ogier remains within range after a mighty effort as sweeper.
Starting down the order by virtue of his awful start to the WRC season, which saw him fail to finish in either Monte Carlo or Sweden, Latvala turned his fortunes around with a solid run through all the major tests, only once failing to top the timesheets during the short SS6 and SS10 super specials.
Other than that, the four tricky tests through El Chocolate and Las Minas were handled with aplomb as he eased out his advantage, eventually ending the day 32secs clear of VW team-mate Ogier.
However, he will still have reason to fear a fightback from the championship leading Frenchman after he resisted losing much time despite being first on the road, keeping Latvala honest throughout the day. He will now benefit from being better placed on the running order tomorrow, putting his team-mate under pressure.
Running well in third all day but now lonely 1min 15s adrift, Dani Sordo nonetheless kept things positive for Hyundai, 30secs up on Mikkelsen, who lost a lot of time through El Chocolate to his rivals.
Hayden Paddon completes the top five, the Kiwi overtaking Mads Ostberg over the afternoon as the Norwegian struggled through El Chocolate too, though he remains well over a minute up on seventh place Ott Tanak.
Martin Prokop and Lorenzo Bertelli follow up in eighth and ninth after relatively trouble-free days, with Teemu Suninen going well clear in the WRC2 fight, finishing the day a massive seven minutes clear of Nicolas Fuchs.
Meanwhile, Eric Camilli endured a day to forget as a puncture lost him six minutes early on before downshift issues lost him another four minutes. He is currently 11th.
A traditional rally of attrition, only Thierry Neuville was a high profile casualty after damaging suspension on a bank on SS4, though local favourite Benito Guerra was also a casualty after stopping on SS5.