Ott Tänak crashed out of Rally Spain on the first stage of Saturday afternoon, having been running sixth.
Tänak was an early fourth overall in his Hyundai but dropped down to sixth with a high-speed spin on SS2.
The 2019 world champion lost the rear of his i20 Coupe WRC through a quick right-hander and steered left to correct it, but the front end found grip and he swung the other way into a dramatic spin.
But things got worse on SS4 as Tänak had another moment and this time didn’t get away with it.
He went off just a couple of miles after the start of the stage, seemingly sliding through a patch of gravel in a cut and leaving the road.
Out front, Elfyn Evans continues to lead the way but he was beaten to the stage win on SS4 by Thierry Neuville.
Neuville’s advantage was only slight though at 0.3s, meaning he still trails by 7.6s overall. However both of the leaders stole another march on Sébastien Ogier who is now 15.6s adrift of the lead, eight seconds back from Neuville.
Dani Sordo’s pursuit of Ogier’s podium place is proving fruitless as he slipped back a further 2.5s on SS4, beaten by the Toyota of Kalle Rovanperä behind him in the classification.
Sordo elected to carry two spare tires – unlike the majority of his rivals – which may have hurt his time, but the local driver also has more responsibility to shoulder in order to bank manufacturer points for Hyundai.
“Honestly it was OK, I’m happy,” he said. “Before I lost 10s [on this stage] whereas here I lost six. I was a little bit disconcerted when I saw Ott but our strategy is a bit different to the rest so let’s see.”
Adrien Fourmaux nicked another 1.1s from M-Sport team-mate Gus Greensmith but just like he had been in the morning, he was frustrated to not feel totally in-tune with his Ford Fiesta WRC.
Oliver Solberg is now eighth in a 2C Competition Hyundai and has a clear objective just to finish following a torrid run of recent results, primarily in Rally2 machinery.
But the 20-year-old was frustrated to be 9.5s adrift of Greensmith’s SS4 time; 20.9s shy of the stage best.
“I thought I pushed OK, OK I was a bit careful in many places but not 10s to the guy in front!” Solberg said. “So we need to find something.”
Nil Solans cotinues to follow Solberg in another 2C Hyundai, as he contests his first ever event in a World Rally Car. He’s 24.1s down on his team-mate.
1 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) 10m17.6s
2 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) +0.3s
3 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota) +3.3s
4 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) +5.2s
5 Dani Sordo/Candido Carrera (Hyundai) +5.8s
6 Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (M-Sport Ford) +10.3s
Leading positions after SS4
1 Evans/Martin (Toyota) 40m51.6s
2 Neuville/Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +7.6s
3 Ogier/Ingrassia (Toyota) +15.6s
4 Sordo/Carrera (Hyundai) +22.2s
5 Rovanperä/Halttunen (Toyota) +30.0s
6 Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (M-Sport Ford) +58.3s
7 Gus Greensmith/Chris Patterson (M-Sport Ford) +1m11.0s
8 Oliver Solberg/Craig Drew (Hyundai) +1m32.6s
9 Nil Solans/Marc Marti (Hyundai) +1m56.7s
10 Mads Ostberg/Torstein Eriksen (Citroën) +2m42.1s