Elfyn Evans has confessed he has “no answer” to his team-mate Kalle Rovanperä who took his 10th stage win of Rally Estonia and seventh in a row.
Neeruti 2 was the last forest stage of the day with just the Tartu superspecial to follow and did little to shake up the competitive order.
Evans did look as if he was about to usurp Rovanperä for the first time since the very first stage on Saturday, but Rovanperä eventually pipped Evans by just 0.1 seconds to grow his lead to 29.5s.
Evans was pragmatic about the situation: “Realistically now it’s quite a big gap for a rally where you need to consistently been chipping in the times, this afternoon I’ve had no answer – well all day he’s been very, very good,” he said.
“We’ll try to keep him under some sort of pressure but he’s done very well so far.”
Rovanperä added: “This one was quite tough condition and big ruts, so it was a clean stage from us, nothing crazy. So all good.”
Oliver Solberg is however nudging closer to his first ever World Rally Championship stage win as he clocked in the fourth fastest time on the previous test and was third quickest here.
Elsewhere, gaps remain stable across the rest of the top 10.
Seventh-placed Esapekka Lappi was fourth fastest on SS17 but is struggling for motivation after his puncture in the morning.
“It’s been quite tricky to enjoy after the puncture,” he said, “it’s been very hard to find the correct rhythm for the driving.
“It would be quite stupid to do a mistake in this position but if you don’t push enough you lose the driving rhythm completely.”