Tänak leads Finland overnight, but Lappi is closing

It's been a big performance from Ott Tänak but Esapekka Lappi has stuck right with him

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Ott Tänak holds a narrow lead going into Saturday after Esapekka Lappi took another chunk of time out of the Hyundai driver to set up a great battle for Rally Finland’s second day.

Tänak has been in imperious form all day on Friday, but when it came to the ninth stage of the day, he couldn’t quite keep his momentum, ending up 1.5 seconds slower than stage victor Lappi.

And he admitted after that he had been trying to push slightly too hard which cost him time.

“In this stage I tried to go a bit faster, but then the mistakes start to come,” said Tänak.

“It’s been a tiring day and my battery is quite flat. Bed is waiting!”

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Meanwhile Elfyn Evans managed to retain his podium position going into Saturday, having set the second fastest time on the 9.75 mile test.

It was made easier after Rovanperä had a lucky escape early onto the Sahloinen-Moksi stage, momentarily ending up on two wheels having gone wide on a left-handed bend.

But he was still able to find most of his time in the final two sectors, limiting the time loss to his team-mate to 1.2s, meaning both are now separated by 1.7s.

“I have to be quite happy. I think we pushed quite hard all the time and we could not do much more,” said Rovanperä

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“This one was quite slippery again.”

Craig Breen is still sat in fifth position, 32.5s off the lead, but crucially 3s ahead of Takamoto Katsuta.

The M-Sport driver was just over a second faster than the Toyota driver but was at a loss to explain his pace deficit to the front-runners.

“I wouldn’t be so happy with fifth place,” he said.“I am trying, honestly, and that was a good stage. I don’t really know.”

Neuville remains seventh, now 50.2s off the overall lead, while Pierre-Louis Loubet survived two wild moments in quick succession, to cling on to eighth.

“It’s been a good day. I did my best and it wasn’t easy,” Loubet explained.

“The times don’t look so nice but we will continue to push and see what we can do.”

His antics on the test cost him 3.8s to his M-Sport team-mate Gus Greensmith, and they now go into Saturday separated by 1.7s.

Teemu Suninen has been in control of the WRC2 class all day, leading Emil Lindholm by a handsome 19.4s overnight.

Words:Rob Hansford

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