(CNN) -- Spaniard Alejandro Canizares carded a second successive 66 to lead the French Open at Le Golf National at halfway on Friday.
But the 27-year-old from Madrid has defending champion Martin Kaymer of Germany in close pursuit, just one shot behind.
Both were held up by a thunderstorm over the course near Paris, but returned to card a string of birdies to move ahead of overnight leader Robert-Jan Derksen, who was in the clubhouse on eight-under 134.
Derksen followed his superb opening 63 with a more mundane level-par 71 in his second round.
Canizares, the son of 1989 Ryder Cup hero Jose-Maria, had four birdies in his last five holes to take the lead.
Kaymer, who is chasing a spot on Colin Montgomerie's team for this year's Ryder Cup, notched three birdies after his enforced break to add a 67 to his opening 66.
He won last season's French and Scottish Opens but a go-karting accident saw him break three toes and leave him on the sidelines for a couple of months.
"I went go-karting again earlier this year, but there will definitely be no more before the Ryder Cup," Kaymer told the official European Tour website.
English hopes Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, both doubtful before the start with leg problems, are both on three under after rounds of 69 and 67, but world number three Westwood is clearly struggling with a sore Achilles tendon.
"I think I just need to ice it," he said. "It doesn't hurt when I swing -- I guess a little bit on the way through - but it's the walking.
"It doesn't feel very nice on short, sharp hills and there are a lot of them around here."
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald, the other world top-10 players in the field, were both three under as well, but Montgomerie missed the cut by one shot on two over.
French favorite Jean Van de Velde, who was joint second overnight after a 66, was 10 shots worse in his second round to go back to level par.