Paolo Andreucci has taken the lead of Rally Sanremo, and is 7.8 seconds clear of Kris Meeke after five stages
Meeke lost time on SS4, Apricale, falling from first to third overall in his Peugeot UK 207.
He reclaimed second from Juho Hanninen (Skoda) on the next stage, but still trails fellow Peugeot driver Andreucci, who won both SS4 and SS5 - sharing fastest time with Luca Rossetti on the latter.
The local experts have fared well on this loop, with Giandomenico Basso and Rossetti fourth and fifth in their Abarth Puntos, pushing Peugeot's Bryan Bouffier down to sixth.
Freddy Loix is currently back in seventh for Skoda, admitting that the level of competition was particularly high in Italy, while fellow works Skoda man and title contender Jan Kopecky continues to struggle for confidence in eighth, ahead of Guy Wilks.
The field now has a break before regrouping for the most eagerly-awaited stage of the rally. The leg-ending Ronde test tonight is a 44-kilometre amalgam of all three stages used this afternoon, and will run under darkness just after 10pm local time.
The fifth Intercontinental Rally Challenge was the best yet, and it was Skoda UK driver Andreas Mikkelsen who emerged as champion from a tense five-way shootout at the season finale. Matt Beer reviews the season