Frenchman Sebastien Loeb in a Citroen heads compatriot and team-mate Sebastien Ogier by 1.5 seconds after the second day of the Rally of Finland, with local driver Jari-Matti Latvala third in his Ford Fiesta.
Loeb began day two of the world championship qualifier first on the road with an advantage of 2.8 seconds over Ogier.
The seven-times world champion struggled in the surface gravel and lost further ground when his windscreen was damaged by rocks thrown up by Ogier's car as they negotiated the super-special stage around a trotting track in Lahti.
Ogier started Saturday's final run 1.9 seconds ahead of Loeb but the pair soon became involved in a tactical battle in an effort to avoid heading the pack for Sunday's 11 stages.
Loeb checked in for the start of the stage a minute late, incurring a 10-second penalty, but Ogier slowed sufficiently to trail his team-mate at the finish.