Ott Tänak claimed his third stage victory of Rally Finland to extend his rally lead to 8.3 seconds on SS7, while Craig Breen lost time in the battle for third after hitting a rock.
The weather took a slight turn on the Ässämäki test, with light rain appearing as drivers began to tackle the stage, but it wasn’t sufficient enough to slow Tänak down.
He managed to complete the 7.64-mile test 2.1s faster than Toyota’s Esapekka Lappi, extending his overall rally lead to 8.3s.
But things weren’t as plain sailing for Craig Breen who had a difficult stage, losing over 10s after hitting a rock, demoting him to fifth.
“I had a huge impact with a rock on the line on a right corner through a dip,” said the M-Sport driver.
“I need to go and look at it now – there’s something not quite right.”
Kalle Rovanperä was just a tenth slower than Lappi on Ässämäki, while Elfyn Evans was a further 2s slower than his team-mate to retain third position overall, having struggled to find the ultimate pace on the stage.
Takamoto Katsuta was fifth fastest, while Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville was sixth, 8.8s down on the pace-setting time.
But despite losing more time on the front-runners – now over half a minute off the lead – Neuville was at least feeling more comfortable with his i20 N Rally 1 car.
“I felt like I had a puncture at one point so I took it a bit more steady,” he said. “But I felt a bit more confident in the car.”
Pierre-Louis Loubet has dropped to ninth after a strong effort from fellow M-Sport driver Jari Huttunen.
Huttunen was seven tenths quicker on the stage and is now half a second ahead of Loubet.
But it was Gus Grensmith who was the fastest M-Sport driver, managing to go a second faster than the pair, to remain 10th overall.
There was some small concern when he left the stage-end however after a dash readout was “going up” on the stage.
Meanwhile, Adrien Fourmaux was a much happier driver now that his power-steering has been fixed. He was 11th fastest, 11.8s slower than Tänak but his afternoon will surely be much easier now the problem is resolved.