Andreas Mikkelsen held onto a slim advantage over Volkswagen team-mate Sebastien Ogier despite having to race with his brakes on following an unlikely incident on the penultimate day of Rally Australia.
Mikkelsen had led by as much as 13.6 seconds before misfortune struck as his clutch pedal was bent and pushed into his brake to allow Ogier to close to within two seconds heading into the final day.
"I cut a corner like I had lots of others," Mikkelsen was quoted as saying on wrc.com.
"There was a bang and I think a rock must have hit under the car and bent the clutch pedal across the brake.
"I had to drive the rest of the stage with the brakes on. We used a ratchet strap to bend it back into place."
Mikkelsen is gunning for a victory in the season-ending rally that would allow him to leapfrog Thierry Neuville in their battle for second place in the drivers' championship.
Ogier has already wrapped up a fourth successive title, to ensure Volkswagen will bow out of the World Rally Championship on a high.
The German manufacturer announced their shock exit from the sport earlier this month and look set to sign off from their dominant recent record with a one-two in Australia, and the drivers' standings, should Mikkelsen hold on.
Hayden Paddon is their closest rival heading into the final day, with a 12secs gap behind leader Mikkelsen with five stages to run on Sunday.