Further down the order, Jari-Matti Latvala is engaged in fierce battle for fourth with Subaru's Chris Atkinson. Latvala moved up to P4 in the first test of the day in his Stobart Ford Focus RS WRC and then pulled out a 10 second cushion in the final two stages.
Dani Sordo completes the top six and while he had been on the fringes of the battle for fourth on Friday, he lost ground this morning and dropped 19.8 seconds back in the #2 Citroen C4 WRC. He eventually finished the day 35 seconds off Atkinson.
Petter Solberg is next up in seventh and still far from happy with his Subaru Impreza WRC, despite the best efforts of 'his' team to try and 'fix' things. In the end though 'Hollywood' reckoned that if anything the car was actually worst today than it was on Friday.
Suzuki's Junior Rally Championship star, Urmo Aava rounds out the provisional points' scorers in his privately entered Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05. The Estonian took eighth in the third test on Saturday, when Stobart Ford man Henning Solberg lost time after hitting a bank.
The Norwegian had to stop twice in Franklin to try and clear mud from the radiator of his Focus and as a result lost over 5 minutes, tumbling down to tenth, behind Aava - and Matthew Wilson, who is ninth in the 'third' Stobart Ford entry, which is not nominated to score manufacturers' points.
Of the rest, Munchi's Ford's duo Federico Villagra and Luis Perez Companc are eleventh and thirteenth respectively, sandwiching Britain's Alister McRae who is currently on course to take the Group N honours.
In the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship category, Niall McShea is now top – and in 14th place overall. McShea took the lead in the second test today, when Armindo Araujo lost time with a broken differential.
Gabriel Pozzo is McShea's nearest threat in the PWRC, a minute back, while current championship leader, Toshi Arai has hauled himself up from tenth overnight to third, only 1.2 secs off taking the runners-up spot.
Fumio Nutahara and NZ Rally champion, Richard Mason complete the top five in the Production class, the latter was second until his car got stuck in gear in Te Akau North.
Day 1 'works' retirees Manfred Stohl and Xavier Pons both re-started this morning under the SupeRally.
Pons did not last long however and rolled out in SS8, while pushing to try and make up some of the lost time. He will not be able to rejoin the fold again on Sunday as his Subaru Impreza was too badly damaged in the off.