Hagfors - Frenchman Sebastien Ogier, in a Volkswagen, edged closer to victory in the Rally of Sweden on Saturday when he kept world champion and compatriot Sebastian Loeb behind him in second spot.
Ogier, who has led the race since the second stage, has a 26.9 second advantage over his Citroen rival, while Norway's Mads Ostberg, in a Ford Focus, stayed in third place.
"Ogier has done really well," said nine-time world champion Loeb, who won the season-opener in Monte Carlo.
"He showed that he deserves to win this race. On Friday, he was untouchable and on Saturday, when we put him under pressure, he remained faultless. Until now, he has driven the perfect rally."
Ogier said he was exhausted by the effort involved in staying out in front.
"I am really tired because this rally really takes it out of you. Between each stage, you have to change the tyres, break the ice on the car, it never ends," said the Volkswagen driver.
Standings after Saturday's eight stages in the Rally of Sweden:
1. Sebastien Ogier (FRA/VW Polo R) 2hr 18min 22.8sec
2. Sebastien Loeb (FRA/Citroen DS3) at 26.9
3. Mads Ostberg (NOR/Ford Fiesta RS) 57.7
4. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN/VW Polo R) 1:03.8
5. Evgeny Novikov (RUS/Ford Fiesta RS) 1:43.5
6. Thierry Neuville (BEL/Ford Fiesta RS) 3:16.2
7. Juho Hanninen (FIN/Ford Fiesta RS) 4:10.5
8. Henning Solberg (NOR/Ford Fiesta RS) 5:16.17
9. Martin Prokop (CZE/Ford Fiesta RS) 7:56.1
10. Daniel Sordo (ESP/Citroen DS3) 8:31.9
Loeb 4 (SS1, SS11, SS13, SS16)
Ogier 8 (SS2, SS3, SS5, SS6, SS7, SS9, SS14, SS15)
Ostberg 1 (SS4)
Hirvonen 2 (SS8, SS12)
Neuville 1 (SS8), Latvala 1 (SS10)