Carlos Sainz is fifth, the Spaniard having had a rather quiet day, and already too far behind to challenge the top four, but too far ahead to be worried by those in his rear mirrors. He was unhappy with his car's handling all day.
Mikko Hirvonen, Francois Duval and Harri Rovanpera round out the provisional points scorers, each one having encountered difficulties in the final test, Hirvonen spinning while the other two had technical difficulties. All three lost time as a result.
Mark Higgins heads the Brits, and is also the best of the privateers, just outside the points in his Ford Focus, while Henning Solberg
completes the top ten.
In the Junior WRC Mirco Baldacci leads a Suzuki 1-2-3-4, 50.3 seconds up on his team-mate, Per-Gunnar Andersson, while Guy Wilks is third, and set for a podium finish at this early stage on his home event.
In total 86 competitors started the event on Thursday, 29 going out over the first seven stages, including works drivers Daniel Carlsson and Armin Schwarz, who both went off the road.
The majority of the second leg tomorrow [Saturday] is based north of Swansea around the Epynt military land. Drivers tackle two identical loops of three stages there, covering more than 91km in total. The only opportunity for service is a 10-minute tyre and fuel zone during which only two mechanics and the drivers can work on the rally cars. Competitors head back south for a test at Margam before a repeat of the super special stage in Cardiff which opened the rally last night. After leaving Swansea at 07.15, drivers face 120.72km of competition before returning to the city for the final overnight halt at 19.59.