Andreas Mikkelsen maintains Rally Sanremo lead

Andreas Mikkelsen inched away from pursuers Freddy Loix and Thierry Neuville through the second loop of Rally Sanremo stages, though the top three are still covered by just five seconds

Andreas Mikkelsen maintains Rally Sanremo lead

Skoda UK's Mikkelsen was quickest on all three stages after service, but only by fractions of a second on SS4 and SS5, before Neuville (Kronos Peugeot) equalled him on the loop-closing Bignone stage.

Neuville had earlier lost second to BFO Skoda driver Loix as the veteran continued his charge up the order. The two Belgians are 0.9s apart, with Loix trailing leader Mikkelsen by 4.5s.

Bryan Bouffier is also within 12.2s of the lead for Peugeot France.

Championship leader Jan Kopecky found more pace after set-up changes to his Skoda at service, allowing him to jump from seventh to fifth with the second-quickest time on Coldirodi. But his progress stalled thereafter and he only just hung on to his position ahead of Bruno Magalhaes (Peugeot Portugal) and Umberto Scandola (Car Racing Ford) after SS6.

The field is now heading for a long regroup before the day ends with the demanding 44-kilometre Ronde stage after dark at 10.33pm local time.

Leading positions after SS6: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Andreas Mikkelsen Skoda UK 48m09.5s 2. Freddy Loix BFO Skoda + 4.5s 3. Thierry Neuville Kronos/Peugeot Belux + 5.4s 4. Bryan Bouffier PH/Peugeot France + 12.2s 5. Jan Kopecky Skoda + 20.5s 6. Bruno Magalhaes Peugeot Portugal + 21.4s 7. Umberto Scandola Car Ford + 24.3s 8. Pierre Campana Munaretto Peugeot + 1m04.2s 9. Giandomenico Basso Proton + 1m07.7s 10. Toni Gardemeister TGS Skoda + 1m24.5s 
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Andrea Mikkelsen takes narrow early lead in Sanremo
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