The Qatari won both of the morning’s gravel stages to return to Leon after SS7, 3m.22.4sec ahead of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo of local hero Nicolas Fuchs.
After battling with brake problems for much of the morning, Ricardo Trivino is third, 5m 48.5 behind his compatriot in another Group N Mitsubishi.
“Okay, It’s a good lead but it’s been very tough out there,” said Al-Kuwari. “For the whole loop I have a problem with the handbrake and no launch control. But it’s okay, now we are focused on getting to the end. We have to be cautious.”
Armin Kremer, who had been third overnight, retired after his Subaru Impreza succumbed to suspension damage on Saturday’s opening stage.
“There was no way he could continue,” team manager Manfred Stohl told wrc.com. “He hit nothing, there was no mistake from him. We'll fix the car now and he should be fine to restart tomorrow.”
“It’s his first time here and he was second in Group N and third in WRC 2 but the luck wasn't on our side, which is disappointing.”