Kalle Rovanperä has extended his Croatia Rally lead, as Esapekka Lappi claimed his second consecutive stage victory.
Rovanperä admitted he was needing to push, although not quite at 100%, but did enough to ensure he was third fastest through the Jaškovo – Mali Modruš Potok test and 1.8 second faster than overall victory rival Ott Tänak.
Although his lead over his Hyundai rival grew, the Toyota driver did have some concerns about the state of his car when he arrived at the end of the stage.
“I am not driving at 100%, but it’s quite close,” said Rovanperä. “I tried to leave the last push out, but you have to be really precise in these conditions.
“I started to have some vibrations in the car – it was a bit disturbing so we have to check it before the next stage.”
Tänak is now 14.8s off the rally lead, but he was pleased to have a clean run after suffering with a gearbox issue on the previous stage and was resolved before SS14.
Once again, being first on the road paid dividends for Lappi as he claimed yet another stage win, although he is still well over an hour off the rally lead as he is driving under SuperRally rules, and Thierry Neuville recovered from his engine-related scare on SS13 to emerge unscathed on SS14.
Neuville was second fastest, and closed the gap to M-Sport’s Craig Breen down to 5.9s as they battle it out for the final podium position.
Elfyn Evans is fifth overall, dropping back to just over 48s behind Neuville, while Takamoto Katsuta holds station in sixth position.
Katusta once again attacked the test cautiously, as he’s looking ahead to the next stage, Platak, where it’s raining once more.
“It’s okay, but I am trying to avoid the punctures also because I really need the rain tyre for the next one,” he said.
In the WRC2 battle, Nikolay Gryazin made up some ground to close the gap to leader Yohan Rossel. Gryazin had the 11th fastest stage time overall and is now 39.4s behind his rival.
1 Esapekka Lappi/Jenne Ferm (Toyota) 5m43.6s
2 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +2.7s
3 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) +2.8s
4 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) +4.6s
5 Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson (M-Sport Ford) +4.7s
6 Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (M-Sport Ford) +8.0s
7 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) +8.9s
8 Pierre-Louis Loubet/Vincent Landais (M-Sport Ford) +9.5s
9 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota) +16.0s
10 Stéphane Lefebvre/Andy Malfoy (Citroën) +27.1s
Leading positions after SS14
1 Rovanperä/Halttunen (Toyota) 2h10m18.5s
2 Tänak/Järveoja (Hyundai) +14.8s
3 Breen/Nagle (M-Sport Ford) +1m08.7
4 Neuville/Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +1m14.6s
5 Evans/Martin (Toyota) +2m02.9s
6 Katsuta/Johnston (Toyota) +5m39.7s
7 Yohan Rossel/Valentin Sarreaud (Citroën) +7m57.9s
8 Nikolay Gryazin/Konstantin Aleksandrov (Škoda) +8m37.3s
9 Kajetan Kajetanowicz/Maciej Szczepaniak (Škoda) +8m53.9s
10 Emil Lindholm/Reeta Hämäläinen (Škoda) +9m22.6s