Jari-Matti Latvala has dominated day three of Rally Mexico to pull out a useful 1m 36.8s lead over Volkswagen team-mate Sebastien Ogier, as the third factory VW of Andreas Mikkelsens drops out of contention after crashing.
Latvala has enjoyed a near-perfect performance at the Central American event on Saturday by winning six stages on Saturday as he made the most of his advantageous road position over his WRC rivals.
The Finn began down the order because of his awful start to the WRC season, which saw him fail to finish in either Monte Carlo or Sweden, but now looks certain to kick-start his 2016 with victory in Mexico assuming he can steer his VW Polo R home on the final day.
Ogier, who has had a flawless start to the season with wins at both opening rounds plus victories on both corresponding Power stages, has admitted he's easing off to ensure he can get home safely to extent his WRC championship lead with second place after his closest title rival Mikkelsen fell out of contention by crashing on SS15.
The Norwegian driver had only been 4.5s off of Hyundai's Dani Sordo in the fight for the last step on the rostrum but lost control of his Volkswagen Polo R around 10km from the finish of the Otates stage and was unable to rejoin.
As a result, Sordo was freed to take third place comfortably with around a two-minute advantage on M-Sport's Mads Ostberg who lost his French team-mate Eric Camilli after he also crashed out on the first stage on the morning runs.
After conceding a place to Ostberg, Hayden Paddon held a steadfast fifth position on day three ahead of the privateer Ford trio of Ott Tanak, Martin Prokop and Lorenzo Bertelli.
Despite returning under Rally 2 regulations after his Friday retirement, Neuville crashed out of Rally Mexico for the second time on SS12 and required a full medical examination from WRC doctors before being discharged.
Assuming Teemu Suninen avoids a nightmare on the final day the Finnish driver will claim the WRC2 class win for Skoda as he holds a 19-minute lead on his nearest rival Hubert Ptaszek.