Juho Hanninen leads the Yalta Rally at the end of the first full day, having put on a burst of speed to pull away from main rival Bryan Bouffier.
The pair were just one second apart heading into the midday service, and Bouffier (Peugeot France) then edged away slightly on the next stage.
But a pair of fastest times on SS7 and SS8 saw Skoda driver Hanninen hit the front and take a relatively comfortable lead, as he completed the loop 12.9s clear of Bouffier.
More drama and attrition further back means the lead duo are now a minute ahead of their rivals.
Jan Kopecky remains third for Skoda, but lost a lot of time with power steering fluid squirting onto his windscreen on today's final stage.
Andreas Mikkelsen (Skoda UK) is fourth despite a high-speed spin, while further punctures have put Peugeot UK's Guy Wilks and TGS Skoda driver Toni Gardemeister down to fifth and seventh.
Early leader Thierry Neuville also had a puncture as he tried to fight back following his morning accident, but with so many delays ahead, he has still climbed back to sixth.
Leading positions after SS8: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Juho Hanninen Skoda 1h36m58.7s 2. Bryan Bouffier PH Peugeot + 8.2s 3. Jan Kopecky Skoda + 1m07.5s 4. Andreas Mikkelsen Skoda UK + 1m33.1s 5. Guy Wilks Peugeot UK (Kronos) + 2m49.0s 6. Thierry Neuville Peugeot Belux (Kronos) + 5m13.2s 7. Toni Gardemeister TGS Skoda + 5m48.6s 8. Karl Kruuda ME3 Skoda + 6m37.5s 9. Marko Tempestini Peugeot (private) + 7m13.7s 10. Giandomenico Basso Proton + 9m19.9s