Sebastien Ogier has taken a slim Rally Finland lead of just over five seconds over Volkswagen teammate Jari-Matti Latvala after Friday morning’s stages.
The reigning champion kicked off the event by winning Thursday evening’s superspecial stage by six tenths of a second from Citroen’s Kris Meeke, who then moved to the top of the times following the first stage of the rally proper, won by Latvala.
Ogier seized the initiative with a win on SS3 however, moving four tenths clear of Meeke, before extending his lead with victory on SS4, the 34km Ouninpohja test, as the Ulsterman began to slip back with a transmission problem.
That allowed Latvala to move into second place, 4.8s behind his teammate Ogier, who then extended his lead to 5.3s after taking a fourth win in five stages on the final test of the loop.
Meeke remains third, 10.6s adrift of the leaders and 12 seconds clear of Citroen teammate Mads Ostberg, who lies fourth.
Haydon Paddon finished the morning quickest of the Hyundai contingent in fifth, 29.1s down but comfortably ahead of sixth place man Robert Kubica, the best of the Ford runners despite being slowed by an alternator problem after both official M-Sport cars hit more serious trouble.
Ott Tanak is almost 90 seconds off the pace after suffering a broken damper on SS3, while Elfyn Evans is 2m40s away from the leaders after breaking his rear suspension on the very next stage.
Volkswagen’s Andreas Mikkelsen meanwhile crashed out of sixth place on SS5 and was forced to retire from the day.