Ott Tänak has retired from Rally Sweden due a problem with the hybrid unit in his Hyundai i20 N Rally1 triggering a red light warning.
Tänak had thrown himself right into the thick of the hunt for victory by winning the previous stage, lying just 1.1 seconds behind rally leader Elfyn Evans in second place.
But towards the end of SS5 the 2019 world champion had complained that he had lost the use of his 100kW hybrid unit.
On the road section from SS5 to SS6, Tänak was forced to stop on the road section and was unable to start the next test.
A statement from Hyundai then confirmed the issue: “Unfortunately an issue with the hybrid kit triggered the red light on car #8 and by FIA regulations, as a safety precaution, we will have to retire Ott Tänak’s car for today.
“We will investigate the issue once the car is back in service.”
On another weekend Tänak’s retirement may have relieved the pressure from rally leader Evans, but his GR Yaris Rally1 pinballing between some SS6 snowbanks illustrated just how hard the Toyota driver was needing to push.
“[It was] not so nice to be honest, the car is quite imbalanced now, quite worn tires on the rear so it wasn’t nice,” said Evans.
His stage wasn’t so nice either as he dropped 6.3 seconds to stage winner Thierry Neuville who produced a brilliant performance in the fading light conditions.
It was a perfectly timed push as it moved Neuville to just 0.6s behind Evans in second overall, 1.5s up on Toyota’s Esapekka Lappi.
“My tires are completely gone, I’m even surprised that we have this time,” said Lappi, who beat Evans but by only 0.7s.
Asked if he had concerns regarding his tires for the final stage, Lappi replied: “Big ones! Big ones!”
But his concerns will be minor compared to Oliver Solberg who was the slowest of the Rally1 runners on SS6, plummeting from second to fifth and 14s shy of the leader.
“No tires. It’s as simple as that,” Solberg explained.
“I gambled a bit on the tires last stage and they were dead at the end, and now we see the consequence of that.”
Kalle Rovanperä had an uneventful stage to creep back up to fourth at Solberg and the now-retired Tänak’s expense, with the road cleaning effect seemingly less of a problem on the final forest stage of Friday.
“This one was quite OK,” he said.
Due to the intense and unpredictable nature of the lead fight, Rovanperä remains just six seconds from the lead despite his handicap.
Gus Greensmith’s miserable run in eighth place continued on SS6; the Briton describing his M-Sport Ford Puma Rally1 as “undriveable” as he crossed the finish line.
Asked if he could find any positives from his day with one stage remaining, Greensmith said: “Positives? Not a lot today, not a lot.”
He lies 15.7s behind his team-mate Adrien Fourmaux with Takamoto Katsuta’s Toyota another 12.4s up the road.
All three are over a minute adrift of the top five after just six stages.
1 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) 8m17.4s
2 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) +3.4s
3 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota) +5.6s
4 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) +6.3s
5 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota) +9.9s
6 Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson (M-Sport Ford) +11.3s
7 Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (M-Sport Ford) +13.7s
8 Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson (Hyundai) +14.3s
9 Jari Huttunen/Mikko Lukka (Ford) +25.8s
10 Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen (Škoda) +30.6s
Leading positions after SS6
1 Evans/Martin (Toyota) 50m29.6s
2 Neuville/Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +0.6s
3 Lappi/Ferm (Toyota) +1.5s
4 Rovanperä/Halttunen (Toyota) +6.0s
5 Solberg/Edmondson (Hyundai) +14.0s
6 Katsuta/Johnston (Toyota) +1m13.3s
7 Fourmaux/Coria (M-Sport Ford) +1m25.7s
8 Greensmith/Andersson (M-Sport Ford) +1m41.4s
9 Ole Christian Veiby/Stig Rune Skjaermoen (Volkswagen) +2m43.0s
10 Andreas Mikkelsen / Torstein Eriksen (Škoda) +2m57.8s