Citroen number two Daniel Sordo has finished day two of the Jordan Rally as he started it, namely sitting at the top of leaderboard, after his two closest rivals purposely slowed in the final stage.

Sordo will now have the dubious 'honour' of running first on the road on Sunday and sweeping away the loose gravel, something that will give Jari-Matti Latvala and Mikko Hirvonen an advantage, especially on the first run through the stages.

Dani started the second leg 1.1 seconds up on his team-mate, Sebastien Loeb and on the opening test, the 14.13 kilometre-run through Turkl 1, he slipped to P2, when the Frenchman set the pace, 5.1 seconds up on Jari-Matti Latala.

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Loeb was again quickest in SS10, to increase his cushion from 8.1 seconds to 16.3 seconds. The four-time world champion continued in the same vein in SS11 too, taking his advantage to just over 30 seconds.

However disaster struck immediately after Shuna 1, when he was sidelined following a head-on collision with Conrad Rautenbach's similar C4 WRC car on a two-way access road leading to and from the test. Nobody was injured but both cars retired and that put Dani back into the lead.

Although it was nip and tuck in SS12, Dani just edged out Latvala - by 0.3 seconds - and thus ended the loop fractionally ahead, with a 0.7 second lead heading into the 30-minute service at the Dead Sea.

In the afternoon Sordo immediately slipped behind Jari and Mikko when he was slowed by a left rear puncture, and he lost further ground in SS14 and SS15, ending Shuna 2 just over 10 seconds off the lead.

In the final test though the situation was reversed and with Jari and Mikko both easing off - although initially they claimed they had problems - Dani found himself back at the top, once again with an 8.5 second cushion over Latvala.

"I always knew that being first on the road would be a handicap. But I think we succeeded in limiting the damage this morning," said Sordo. "This afternoon got off to a poor start when we picked up a slow puncture which dropped us time. I kept up a good pace to stay ahead of our rivals.

"We recovered first place after the final stage when the others, strangely enough, hit problems. We will have to push hard tomorrow because we want to stay in front, and anything is still possible."

Latvala meanwhile, who had started proceedings in third, confirmed that he eased off on purpose in the repeat run through the Baptism Sea test.

"We had a pre-event team strategy not to be first on the road tomorrow so I slowed before the finish," he explained. "I believe it's the right tactic bit it was a strange feeling having to slow the car down. I pushed as hard as possible until then. It will be a hard day tomorrow but I need to sleep well and attack hard.

"When I wake up tomorrow, I want to win this rally so I need to be both careful and very fast."

Mikko Hirvonen opted for the same approach and he was 19.8 seconds off Dani in that final stage, only tenth on the timesheets.

"With lots of loose gravel on the road surface of tomorrow's stages, my plan was to ensure I didn't start the final day first," he added. "Things were made easier for us when Loeb retired.

"I'm sure I'll have to fight all day tomorrow. Sordo will be fast on the second pass of the stages when the roads are cleaner, even if he loses time on the first pass, and Jari-Matti will be tough to beat."

Further down the order, Chris Atkinson is fourth, albeit just over two minutes off the trio battling for the victory. The Aussie played it safe throughout the leg and reported no major problems.

"The biggest focus for us today was to get to the finish, make no mistakes and just hold position," said the Subaru man. "There is a big gap in front and behind of us. I'm happy with fourth."

Urmo Aava completes the top five in his privately entered Citroen C4 WRC car, a minute or so off Atkinson and nearly two minutes up on Matthew Wilson. The Estonian has had a very respectable run and was fifth fastest in both SS12 and SS16.

Wilson had a solid day too and still leads the way for the Stobart Ford outfit, although Henning Solberg is now breathing down his neck and is only 14.4 seconds adrift in the sister car.

Henning was a lot happier with his Focus on day 2 and set his best time of the event in the final stage of the day, when he was third quickest.

"Today felt much better than yesterday especially on the second pass of the stages. My times were much faster on the afternoon loop as we made a few small changes in service and they helped to give me more confidence," explained the Norwegian.

"I managed to get some time back on Matthew today and it looks like we have a bit of a race tomorrow."

Of the rest, Munchi's Ford man Federico Villagra is poised to take eighth and score a drivers' point for the third event in succession, while Khalid Al-Qassimi is ninth, 14.2 seconds further back in the 'third' BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT car.

SupeRally re-starter Gigi Galli completes the top ten, having gone out in SS6 on Friday, when he hit a stone-bank. The Italian has made good progress after starting the day outside the top 30 and he finished the day with three fastest times in succession, a good indication of what might have been.

Per-Gunnar Andersson, Petter Solberg and Conrad Rautenbach also all rejoined on day 2.

P-G ended proceedings in 43rd place, having missed all of Friday's action after going off in SS1. He posted seven top ten times, his best a sixth best effort in SS15.

Solberg crashed out in the final stage of the day, when he slid off the road heavily under braking, 5.3 kilometres into the test.

"We had so much go wrong today," said 'Hollywood'. "We knew we had a brake caliper leaking, and in the last stage I braked and the car just didn't slow down enough. It's so, so frustrating and just boring.

"I want to be able to push and drive properly but we just haven't been able to this weekend."

Rautenbach of course retired earlier on after that incident with Loeb and while he apologised, he maintained it was an accident.

"I'm really sorry for Sebastien and for Citroen, both of whom are fighting to win this event and the championship. Sebastien had pushed really hard to get into a good position and to build a good lead," he noted.

"It's really unfortunate. I'm pretty fed-up myself - I'm out of day two as well. It was an accident, nobody's fault."

In the Junior WRC category, Patrik Sandell continues to lead, as he has done since SS2. The Renault Clio man is nearly two minutes up on Sebastien Ogier, who lost considerable time on day 1 with a puncture.

Ogier has now hauled himself right back up however and he set the JWRC pace in seven of day's eight tests. Jaan Molder completes the top three in his Suzuki, 24 seconds further back, followed by Shaun Gallagher and Gilles Schammel.

The action now concludes on Sunday and unusually it is the longest day of the event, with six stages totally just over 134 competitive kilometres - and including two passes of the 41.45 kilometre Jordan River stage.

Stay tuned to for more...