Dani Sordo produced a masterful drive to take the lead at Rally Spain on Friday boosting hopes of a home win for the first time in 21 years.
Carlos Sainz was the last Spaniard to win the event in 1995.
The Hyundai driver enjoys a 17 second advantage over championship leader Sébastien Ogier.
Ogier meanwhile needs only 16 points from this rally to secure his fourth straight world title.
The Frenchman led at the end of the morning’s tests but struggled on the slimy roads in the afternoon as Sordo took over.
Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen, Ogier’s VW teammate and closest championship rival, finished the day in third place, a further 18.1 seconds adrift.
Belgium’s Thierry Neuville spun on the muddy gravel during the day’s fifth stage and damaged his car.
He lost his front bumper and time, dropping back in fourth place overall.
New Zealand’s Hayden Paddon is having his best season to date after victory in Argentina and two other podium finishes.
He ended Friday’s action in fifth 47.5 seconds off Sordo’s pace and just 1.2 seconds behind Hyundai teammate Neuville.
Finland’s Jari-Matti Latvala won two of the morning stages but his fortunes quickly changed when the suspension on his Volkswagen failed leaving him well out of contention.