Kalle Rovanperä leads Acropolis Rally Greece into the final day courtesy of drama for Toyota team-mate Sébastien Ogier.
The pair were fighting for victory after Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville retired from the lead earlier in the day with broken suspension from a heavy impact with a hole in the road.
At that point Ogier was 12.6 seconds clear of Rovanperä, and on the next stage that gap was reduced by just 0.2s.
The day-ending Eleftherochori test suited Rovanperä more, but his pace advantage would not be enough to take him into the rally lead. At least that is what it looked like after the first split.
By the second split he had taken 9.8s out of Ogier, and then it all came tumbling down for the erstwhile leader.
An impact in a ditch appeared to break the rear-left suspension on Ogier’s GR Yaris Rally1 and he quickly stopped to discover he had a rear-right puncture too.
He and co-driver Vincent Landais went to work straight away and were able to get going again after losing over two minutes.
Ogier finished the stage, but close to four minutes slower than his team-mate and now in fourth place in the rally.
Rovanperä assumed the lead by a huge 2m04.4s over Hyundai’s Dani Sordo, who has had a drama-free event but persistently struggled with understeer and his tire choices, with Toyota’s Elfyn Evans a further five seconds back in third.
Evans had been ahead of Sordo but went 9.1s slower than him through Eleftherochori, setting an identical time to M-Sport’s Ott Tänak.
If not for a 3m40s penalty for being late to time control on Friday, Tänak would now be sitting in second place in the rally but instead is 4m49.7s off the lead in fifth.
Esapekka Lappi went two minutes slower than Rovanperä and therefore conceded the fifth place he held to Tänak, despite the latter having a spin in the day’s final stage and suspecting his rear axle was loose.
Andreas Mikkelsen has taken the WRC2 lead and eighth place overall from Gus Greensmith by beating his fellow Škoda driver to the stage win by 5.2s. The gap between them with three stages remaining is 0.4s.