Ott Tänak won his second stage of Sunday morning in Belgium, but team-mate Thierry Neuville stands just a few miles away from a home World Rally Championship victory on the Ypres Rally.
Neuville leads the rally by a healthy 24.3 seconds ahead of the Francorchamps powerstage, losing just 0.7s to stage winner Tänak on SS19 Stavelot.
His lead advantage ballooned on the penultimate stage of the rally as Craig Breen backed off completely, setting the slowest time of all the World Rally Cars.
“The guys back home [in Ireland] will get it, I was full Dan Daly – tried to back off everywhere,” he said.
Neuville said he was “looking forward” to final stage but “it’s going to be a tough one”.
“Really looking forward and hope we can secure this first victory for us this season, first victory together with Martijn [Wydaeghe] and that in Belgium would be very nice,” he said.
Elfyn Evans lost another 1.1s to Kalle Rovanperä on SS19, meaning the battle between the Toyota pair looks to be all but extinguished with a five-second difference between third and fourth place ahead of the powerstage.
“[It’s] disappointing to lose out again but we just have to do what we can,” remarked Evans.
For his part, Rovanperä was frustrated with his performance – before knowing he’d beaten Evans – as he struggled with his Yaris WRC a touch.
“I started to have quite a lot of understeer during the stage, much more than on the first pass,” he explained. “I’m not happy.”
Fifth-placed Sébastien Ogier was flamboyant on the circuit sections, running his Toyota Yaris WRC very wide and far beyond the exit kerbs when it allowed.
Ogier was 0.4s slower than Evans to set the fifth quickest time on Stavelot 2.
Yohan Rossel holds seventh overall, one spot behind Tänak with a WRC3 class win seemingly secure as chief rival and Freddy Loix protege Sébastien Bedoret ran into transmission trouble.
That’s not only cost Bedoret the WRC3 win, but also now dropped him off the podium and cost him victory in the Belgian Rally Championship classification.
1 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) 5m04.0s
2 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) +0.7s
3 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) +2.0s
4 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) +3.1s
5 Sébastien Ogier/Julian Ingrassia (Toyota) +3.5s
6 Gus Greensmith/Chris Patterson (M-Sport Ford) +6.4s
Leading positions after SS19
1 Neuville/Wydaeghe 2h23m32.2s
2 Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (Hyundai) +24.3s
3 Rovanperä/Halttunen +41.8s
4 Evans/Martin +46.8s
5 Ogier/Ingrassia +57.4s
6 Tänak/Järveoja +3m50.1s
7 Yohan Rossel/Alexandre Coria (Citroën) +11m49.8s
8 Pieter Jan Michiel Cracco/Jaspen Vermeulen (Škoda) +12m26.3s
9 Fabian Kreim/Frank Christian (Volkswagen) +12m44.4s
10 Vincent Verschueren/Filip Cuvelier (Volkswagen) +12m58.1s