Dani Sordo leads Rally Mexico ahead of the returning Sébastien Loeb and Ott Tanäk after Fridays nine stages.
Making the most of a lower starting position, Sordo leads by just 7.2 seconds with a charging Loeb running closely behind after winning both stages seven and eight in the afternoon.
And things could have been even better for Loeb, making his first WRC appearance since the beginning of 2015, if not for an overshoot costing him vital seconds in the Citroen C3.
But it’s Sordo who leads for Hyundai after a string of consistent times across the day including taking two victories on stages three and four.
Despite running third, Tanäk suffered overheating issues with his Toyota throughout Friday and he sits ahead of the second Citroen of Kris Meeke in fourth; the Irishman originally leading before several spins cost him precious seconds.
Fifth at the end of day two is the sole remaining M-Sport Ford of Sébastien Ogier, again suffering from being one of the first cars to enter each stage. Andreas Mikkelsen is in sixth and struggling to understand his lack of pace so far this weekend.
The two other M-Sport drivers, Elfyn Evans and stage five winner Teemu Suninen are both out of the event; Evans’ roll on stage four gave his co-driver Daniel Barritt concussion and the pair are to sit out the remainder of the day on medical grounds, while Suninen damaged the cooling system on his Fiesta after hitting a wall and took no further part after stage seven.
Championship leader Thierry Neuville had a day to forget. The combination of being first in the running order, a fuel pressure problem on stage five and then a power steering issue means the Belgian lies seventh and two minutes off the lead.
The two other Toyota’s of Jari-Matti Latvala and Esapekka Lappi also hit trouble. Latvala was another driver to suffer overheating issues, then an alternator problem forced him to stop, while Lappi crashed out of the event on stage seven.
WRC2 sees Skoda driver and defending champion Pontus Tidemand dominating after winning every stage so far in the class ahead of Gus Greensmith and Pedro Heller.
Rally Mexico continues this weekend.