World champion Kalle Rovanpera swept into the lead of the Acropolis Rally on Saturday as rivals Sebastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville saw their hopes dashed in Greece's unforgiving heat and dust.
Eight-time world champion Ogier was forced out on the day's last stage when his Toyota suffered a broken suspension as it clattered into a rock.
That allowed teammate Rovanpera, who had been more than 12 seconds in arrears at the time, to finish the day two minutes ahead of Dani Sordo in a Hyundai.
Ogier had himself inherited the lead earlier Saturday when Neuville's Hyundai hit a hole at high speed resulting in a shattered right suspension.
Neuville had arrived in Greece trailing championship leader Rovanpera by 36 points.
"There was a lot happening at the front today," said Rovanpera.
"It was a nice battle of course, but not the easiest to push with Seb because we had the championship to think about.
"I think we had a good day, we were fast but we also kept the car in one piece."
Elfyn Evans, who cut the world championship deficit to teammate Rovanpera to 25 points after winning in Finland last month, saw his Toyota overheat.
He is more than two minutes off the lead heading into Sunday's final day on the 10th race of the 13-round championship.