Ford's Markko Martin has taken the lead of the Uddeholm Swedish Rally today [Friday], the Estonian claiming his advantage after setting the fastest time in stage three.
His only woe of the day has been stalling at the start of the second stage, he now leads by 23.3 seconds.
"I took care early this morning and just needed a couple of stages to settle into the rally," he said, "The Focus has been reliable all day. The only problem was a driver one when I stalled the engine at the start of the second stage but we didn't lose much time.
"The two Granberget stages were really good fun, in fact the whole day has been enjoyable. This morning we were the second car through the stage and there were no lines or ruts from other cars so I was able to play with the car a little and choose exactly the line that I wanted. To be first with a lead of more than 20sec is better than I expected."
Rallye Monte-Carlo victor Sebastien Loeb
is however pressuring Martin from second while Petter Solberg
has climbed to third after losing time with a spin in the second stage.
"I'm very pleased," noted Loeb, "I had a good day today, better then last year - we have had no problems. I'm impressed by Markko Martins' driving though. It doesn't matter if it's snowing tomorrow."
Solberg added: "It's been an incredible day, much better that I expected. I've never done well here before so I'm very happy. We had no real problems today just the spin earlier, but that's just part of the game. Since then, it's been perfect.
"Out on the stages there's an incredible atmosphere - I've never seen so many Norwegian flags. The conditions suit my driving and if it stays the same tomorrow, I'll do my best to beat Markko and Sebastien."
Carlos Sainz meanwhile holds fourth overnight ahead of Janne Tuohino, who has been nominated to score points for Ford in an M-Sport prepared Focus.
"We made no mistakes although maybe we were too sideways in places on the second stage this morning," commented Tuohino, "I drove at maximum speed but didn't take any risks. I call it safety speed and everything has gone normally. It's not a bad position to be the leading Finn on a winter rally. I will try to go a little faster tomorrow and brake a little less but I must be careful because the Focus has more potential than I know about."