Championship leader Sebastien Ogier is languishing in seventh after a disappointing morning session.
Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville opened up a 5.1 second at the top of the standings as the Safari Rally Kenya in Nairobi continued on Friday while Elfyn Evans and Dani Sordo were both forced to retire after hitting trouble:
There were frustrations for title contender Evans who hit a rock and subsequently retired while Sordo spun into a ditch signalling the end of his race.
Evans hopes to return to action on Saturday under the Rally 2 regulations in a bid to salvage points on Sunday’s Power Stage.
Neuville set an impressive pace to leave himself clear of second-placed Kalle Rovanpera of Toyota while Ott Tanak was a further 26.2s adrift in third.
The rally continues on Saturday.