Thierry Neuville recorded yet another Rally Spain stage win to increase his control on the event as Adrien Fourmaux impressed with the second fastest time on SS8.
Neuville held a 2.4-second advantage ahead of SS8 Querol – Les Pobles as he squabbled for supremacy with erstwhile leader Elfyn Evans.
But another strong time for Neuville and a poorer one from Evans put another 4.3s between the pair, meaning Neuville now leads by 6.7s.
Evans could only produce the fifth-fastest time, leaving a rejuvenated Fourmaux to become Neuville’s closest on-stage rival with a time just 1.7s slower. That also allowed him to put clear distance between himself and M-Sport team-mate Gus Greensmith in their battle for sixth.
Sébastien Ogier and Dani Sordo remain tightly glued together – both in terms of stage and overall time. Ogier shaded Sordo by just 0.1s on SS8 to extend his advantage over fourth place to 6.2s.
Perhaps more importantly for Ogier though, he managed to get the better of Evans for the first time this weekend, going faster by 1.4s.
Kalle Rovanperä continues to hold fifth but he was sixth quickest on SS8, 5.9s down on Neuville’s benchmark and 1.6s shy of Toyota team-mate Evans’ performance.
Oliver Solberg gave up 8.7s to 2C Competition team-mate Nil Solans on Saturday morning’s opener, but hit back on SS8 as he beat him by 4.2s to keep the gap between the pair at a shave over half a minute.
The duo are eighth and ninth respectively, Solberg heading Solans by 30.4s. The restarting Takamoto Katsuta was the slowest of the World Rally Cars, pipped by Solans by 0.7s.
1 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) 10m29.6s
2 Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (M-Sport Ford) +1.7s
3 Dani Sordo/Candido Carrera (Hyundai) +2.8s
4 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota) +2.9s
5 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) +4.3s
6 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) +5.9s
Leading positions after SS8
1 Neuville/Wydaeghe (Hyundai) 1h19m18.7s
2 Evans/Martin (Toyota) +6.7s
3 Ogier/Ingrassia (Toyota) +25.7s
4 Sordo/Carrera (Hyundai) +31.9s
5 Rovanperä/Halttunen (Toyota) +46.4s
6 Fourmaux/Coria (M-Sport Ford) +1m19.8s
7 Gus Greensmith/Chris Patterson (M-Sport Ford) +1m54.5s
8 Oliver Solberg/Craig Drew (Hyundai) +2m25.2s
9 Nil Solans/Marco Marti (Hyundai) +2m55.6s
10 Eric Camilli/Maxime Vilmot (Citroën) +5m02.9s