McRae finished in sixth place overall in his Subaru as the Australian Rally headed into the forests east of Perth amid warnings of venomous snakes which have caused several deaths recently. The 30-year-old Scot believes he is well-placed to power to victory in the remaining two days, though Richard Burns is emerging as a major threat to McRae securing the win he desperately needs tomorrow.
Burns, who claimed his maiden world championship win in Kenya earlier this year, finished in his Mitsubishi just over 66 seconds ahead of Toyota's Didier Auriol, with McRae another half a minute down.
"I'm happy with our overnight position although I would've liked the gap to have been about 15 seconds closer," McRae said. "The road surface in Australia is very different to anywhere else in the world and even though the stages are dry, the gravel is like small round ball-bearings and it makes it incredibly slippery.
"It's important not to be running first on the road, and although Richard has quite a lead I'm sure he'll be at a disadvantage tomorrow.
World championship leader Carlos Sainz, first off each time today, obviously agreed as the Spaniard "lost" a few seconds in the final stage in Perth's Langley Park to slip from third overall to fifth, giving him a greater advantage tomorrow.
McRae trails Sainz by eight points and is six adrift of Mitsubishi's Tommi Makinen.
In the two-litre category, the Welsh driver Gwyndaf Evans leads from Alister McRae, Colin's brother, by just under 10 seconds.