Ott Tanak managed to see off the challenge of Kalle Rovanpera in tricky conditions to end the day 8.4s ahead of the new challenger from Toyota.
Saturday got underway in tricky conditions, intermittent rain on the opening loop meant that the drivers would have to navigate changeable grip conditions on the fast Finland stages.
Ott Tanak managed to extend his lead in the morning tests to lead by 9.5s over Esapekka Lappi. The Estonian wouldn’t be the one to benefit the most however as championship leader, Kalle Rovanpera managed to cut down his 21s gap to 12.9s.
Rovanpera, a master in tricky conditions, jumped his teammate Elfyn Evans in the second stage to take third spot. Despite an off in the final morning stage, Rovanpera would lead Evans by 5s but sounded like he was just happy to have finished
“We are lucky to be here…We had one pace note a bit too fast and we were completely off the road!”
The start to Saturday was more positive for the Hyundai of Thierry Neuville. The Belgian moved into fifth position along with Takamoto Katsuta in sixth due to Ford’s Craig Breen hitting a rock after a jump. Along with differential changes, Neuville’s rally started to look more positive.
Breen’s accident meant that Pierre-Louis Loubet and Gus Greensmith would move into seventh and eighth as the lead Fords.
It would be on SS16 that Rovanpera would take second postion from his teammate. Lappi was suffering with reduced visibility due to a cracked windscreen, along with Rovanpera setting the pace, Lappi was now 8.5s behind in third.
Over SS17 and 18 Rovanpera would continue to try to chase down Tanak, with the Toyota getting the gap down to 8.3s at the end of the day to set up a Sunday morning showdown.
Lappi shipped more time to the leading pair as he still suffered with a cracked windscreen. Evans however would be lucky on the final stage. A bolt that attaches the suspension strut to the upright had snapped after SS17 so was nursing a wounded Toyota through the final stage.
Neuville finished the day still in fifth followed by Katsuta but a 30s+ gap would separate the two.