Kris Meeke followed up his front-running pace from yesterday's shakedown to take the lead in the early stages of the Rally de Curitiba today
The Briton set the quickest time on all four of Friday morning's stages in his Peugeot 207 and built a lead of 28 seconds over second-placed Nicolas Vouilloz.
"It's been a really good day so far," Meeke told autosport.com. "The car is perfect, my pace notes are perfect, everything is spot on. When you're in the groove and everything is going perfectly, it can be so simple."
Meeke says he is enjoying the high-speed gravel stages of Curitiba, but is determined not to let anything slip in this afternoon's leg.
"These are some of the best stages I've ever driven on - they're so quick, but the grip is constant right across the road - it's not a case of having to keep it in two tyre tracks," he said. "It's important just to keep the concentration up this afternoon, there are no small crashes on stages this fast so I just want to keep everything together and hopefully keep pulling the lead out."
Anton Alen ran second to Meeke for much of the morning until damaging the left rear of his Abarth Grand Punto when he hit a rock at a slow, first-gear corner on SS3.
He punctured the tyre and damaged the brakes and suspension ball joint, and dropped around 40 seconds trying to make repairs during the stage. Alen then lost another seven minutes driving slowly through SS4.
Abarth's Giandomenico Basso is third, just six seconds behind Vouilloz, with Alejandro Cancio - the first of the Brazilian entrants - fourth in his Mitsubishi Evo.
The final IRC regular, Freddy Loix, is over a minute adrift of Meeke in fifth place, but puts the lack of speed down to running first on the road.
"It was hard to be first on the road, it's very dusty and there was no grip," Loix told autosport.com. "But the second time around the stages it should not be so bad so I hope I can climb up this afternoon."
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