The Qatari snatched first place on Stage 12 when overnight leader Yuriy Protasov spun on the second corner, damaging the right-hand side of his Fiesta R5 and slipping to second after losing more than two minutes.
Al-Kuwari had a lucky escape himself on SS15 when he spun into a field, but the Qatari brought his car back to service in Coffs Harbour with a relatively comfortable lead over Protasov of 1min 13.8sec.
Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al Rajhi is third, almost seven minutes behind Protasov, having restarted after breaking the steering on his Fiesta RRC on Friday.
Subaru Impreza driver Arman Smailov is fourth, nearly 13 minutes further back, with Hayden Paddon almost 11 minutes behind in fifth.
Restarting today after his day one retirement with electrical problems, Paddon gave a glimpse of what might have been by winning each of Saturday’s gravel stages by a comfortable margin in his Skoda Fabia S2000.
The New Zealander rounded off the day with a joint fastest and a second fastest time on the two Coffs super specials.
Mini JCW driver Carlos Garcia Fessman is sixth and the final WRC 2 runner.