The Qatari ended the day with a 4min 29.8sec advantage over the Subaru Impreza of Yuriy Protasov. Ricardo Trivino holds third, 5min 20.3sec from the lead, in a Mitsubishi Lancer.
Argentine Marcos Ligato was fastest on last night’s opening super special stage in an Impreza, but he stopped with a broken left rear track control arm in today’s opening test and Al-Kuwari took control.
“We’re leading, so we’re happy. The windscreen was misting a lot on the final stage, and it was difficult to see. We are working on our pace notes because I have to brake early everywhere,” said Al-Kuwari, who admitted it was the first time he had driven in fog.
Overheating brakes were a common complaint, especially on the long 51km Ascochinga / Agua de Oro stage. Trivino struggled there this morning while Protasov encountered similar problems this afternoon.
In bigger trouble was Germany’s Armin Kremer, who dropped more than three minutes with a broken rear brake pipe on his Impreza in Ascochinga this morning.
Nicolas Fuchs held a solid second in his Lancer until both rear shock absorbers broke at the start of the final stage and the Peruvian dropped almost five minutes.
Lorenzo Bertelli’s challenge was short-lived, the Italian retiring his Impreza on the road section to this morning’s opening stage.