Elfyn Evans set a blistering stage 10 time to retake the lead of Rallye Monte Carlo from Toyota teammate Sebastien Ogier.
Evans set a time on the icy first passing of La Bréole – Selonnet 7.6 seconds faster than anyone else and now leads by 4.8 seconds at Saturday lunchtime service.
3rd place Thierry Neuville won the opening stage of the morning, but a poor run on the next test saw him drop 13.8 seconds to Evans and the leading trio are now separated by 16.6 seconds.
Behind, Sebastien Loeb has fifth place Esapekka Lappi closing on him after the Frenchman appeared to hit a snowbank on stage nine as well as dropping more time when trying to save his tyres on the second stage.
M-Sport Ford’s Lappi has taken 25.1 seconds out of the margin between them, with the gap now 35.2 seconds and the battle for fourth could become a three-way fight with Kalle Rovanperä a further 27.9 seconds adrift.
Takamoto Katsuta, the next WRC runner in eighth overall, also hit a snowbank and he dropped nearly four minutes as he chose to stop and clear the snow buried in the grill of his Toyota.
The battle in WRC2 continues with Mads Ostberg and Ole Christian Veiby now separated by 13.1 seconds – only 0.8s difference from the start of Saturday with Adrien Fourmaux now recovering to third after leapfrogging Nikolay Gryazin as he continues his comeback up the leaderboard.
Eric Camilli continues to lead a French 1-2-3-4 in WRC3 and sits seventh overall, with Nicolas Ciamin his nearest rival 1m22.2s behind.