Thierry Neuville will go into the final day of Rally Australia with a commanding 20.1 second lead over Jari-Matti Latvala, as his main rivals suffered problems.
Neuville won three of Saturday's first five stages, including the mammoth Nambucca test, one of the longest stages in the World Rally Championship.
His Hyundai team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen had come into Saturday with his own advantage of 20.1s, but that disintegrated when he suffered a double puncture on the second stage of the day and only had one spare tyre.
Mikkelsen was forced to retire and would be later joined on the sidelines by fellow podium contender Kris Meeke, who broke the suspension on his Citroen C3 after hitting a bridge on Welshs Creek.
"Now I have a good lead but we have to be careful. If the rain comes tomorrow it's going to be very difficult," said Neuville.
Latvala pressured Neuville early on, winning the second stage of the morning but couldn't sustain the charge for the rest of the day, slipping to just over 20 seconds back by the end of the two Super Specials in Coffs Harbour.
"If Thierry is keeping that speed - [I have] no chance," admitted Latvala.
"I hear rain is coming so tomorrow will be difficult and we must stay focused - everything is open."
Heading into Sunday, Ott Tanak holds the final place on the podium. The Estonian was unable to make inroads on the leading duo but holds a sizeable advantage over the chasing pack.
Craig Breen sits in fourth place in his Citroen C3 ahead of Hayden Paddon and world champion Sebastien Ogier, who conceded that "it's hard to find any positives today".
Ogier missed a junction on the second stage of the morning and suffered major front bodywork damage on the first stage of the shortened afternoon loop.
He's ahead of his fellow countryman Stephane Lefebvre, who struggled with the balance of his C3 all day, spinning multiple times and lacking the front-running pace.
Elfyn Evans sits in eighth place, and says he can't wait to get past this "long and frustrating weekend."
Esapekka Lappi is ninth in the overall classification. The sole WRC2 entry of Kalle Rovanpera, who was running just inside the top 10, was forced to prematurely end his Saturday with a double puncture when only one spare was available. Nathan Quinn now rounds out the top 10.
Leading positions after SS16
|1||Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul||Hyundai Motorsport||Hyundai||2h05m11.6s|
|2||Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila||Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC||Toyota||20.1s|
|3||Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja||M-Sport World Rally Team||Ford||40.6s|
|4||Craig Breen, S.Martin||Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT||Citroen||1m05.2s|
|5||Hayden Paddon, S.Marshall||Hyundai Motorsport||Hyundai||1m21.1s|
|6||Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia||M-Sport World Rally Team||Ford||1m48.2s|
|7||Stephane Lefebvre, G.Moreau||Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT||Citroen||3m00.2s|
|8||Elfyn Evans, D.Barritt||M-Sport World Rally Team||Ford||3m25.3s|
|9||Esapekka Lappi, J.Ferm||Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC||Toyota||4m20.3s|
|10||Nathan Quinn, B.Searcy||Mitsubishi||17m35.2s|