Kalle Rovanperä has moved past Esapekka Lappi into second place on Rally Finland as Lappi struggled to see through a broken windshield.
Lappi has led Toyota’s challenge to rally leader Ott Tänak throughout the entire weekend, but Rovanperä’s has emerged as the fastest GR Yaris Rally1 on the second full day, once relieved of sweeping the stages clear.
The position change was perhaps coming, but damage caused to Lappi’s car – where a rock was flicked and broke his windshield right in his eye-line – has accelerated the process.
Lappi dropped 7.2 seconds to his team-mate on SS16 and therefore fell to third, trailing by 5.7s and the rally leader by 17.2s.
To say he was gutted about it would be an understatement.
“Yeah… I’m not in the mood to talk now, sorry.”
Rovanperä won SS16, the second pass of Rapsula, by 1.2s over Tänak to trail by 11.5s, but Tänak isn’t about to give in just because his nearest challenger has changed.
“I definitely try to stay in front,” he said. “I’m not comfortable in the car but I keep pushing, I fight.”
Elfyn Evans now finds himself in no man’s land, 27s off the lead but 1m25.4s up on fifth placed Thierry Neuville.
“I’m struggling to be honest, I don’t have the feeling I want in these drying conditions,” he said, “the car’s moving a lot. Yeah, not easy.”
Takamoto Katsuta had taken some time from Neuville on the first stage out of service, reigniting his hopes of charging down the Hyundai driver and retaking the place he lost in the morning.
But Katsuta is rooted in sixth for now after shipping 2.9s to Neuville on the second pass of Rapsula.
“A lot of bedrocks are coming up from the ground so I hit it a few times as it’s in the line,” Katsuta described.
“Honestly it’s a horrible feeling to touch it but luckily we didn’t get a puncture. All OK but I need to push a bit more.”
Neuville, who is now 7.2s ahead overall, meanwhile felt SS16 was “the first clean, smooth stage we had all weekend”.
Gus Greensmith has Pierre-Louis Loubet’s seventh place firmly in his sights, beating his M-Sport team-mate 5.5s on SS16 – and it could’ve been more had Greensmith not had a half-spin at a junction.
“That felt like a really good stage but towards the end there’s a junction on Tarmac and I missed my braking, definitely two to three seconds so that’s disappointing as it was a good stage up until then,” Greensmith rued.
Loubet’s overall advantage is now just 2.4s but he at least knew where he had lost the time.
“In the forest I hit a big rock on the line, it was a big impact so after that I was a bit careful,” he explained.