The gap between the two DS3s ebbed and flowed through the second of the three loops of stages scheduled for Friday, with Loeb five seconds clear of Hirvonen as they headed for service.
Although the Fords are not being left behind, neither Petter Solberg nor Jari-Matti Latvala are closing the gap the Citroens created in the morning. Latvala is still third, 15s adrift of Loeb and 2.8s ahead of his team-mate Solberg.
Mads Ostberg and Thierry Neuville continue to hold fifth and sixth in, respectively, their Adapta Ford and Citroen Junior entries.
Chris Atkinson, standing in for the Olympics-bound Nasser Al-Attiyah in the Qatari's Citroen, was running eighth on his World Rally Championship return when he misheard a pace note and crashed on SS8.
1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 55m33.4s
2. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen + 5.0s
3. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 15.1s
4. Petter Solberg Ford + 17.9s
5. Mads Ostberg Adapta Ford + 29.7s
6. Thierry Neuville Citroen Junior + 36.5s
7. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford + 1m08.3s
8. Jari Ketomaa Autotek Ford + 1m55.5s
9. Matti Rantanen M-Sport Ford + 1m58.9s
10. Martin Prokop Czech Ford + 2m22.7s