Ott Tanak and Martin Jarveoja continue to lead Rally Estonia as their team-mates, Craig Breen and Thierry Neuville experienced afternoons of polar opposites in their Hyundai i20 WRCs.
Breen has taken his first stage wins as a Hyundai driver while Neuville’s rally came to an end after suffering suspension damage on Stage 7.
Tanak took one stage win during Saturday’s repeated loop of stages and now holds a 11.7s advantage over Breen and Paul Nagle.
The Irish pairing exchanged their hat-trick of second-fastest times on the opening loop for a brace of stage wins on the second passes of Otepaa and Maekula.
Sebastien Ogier’s afternoon got off to the best possible start with a fastest time on Stage 7, Prangli. He looked to be reeling in Breen but has since lost touch and is now 17.0s behind the Irishman.
Ogier inherited his podium position when Neuville wrecked his i20’s rear-right wheel on Prangli. Neuville ran wide on a fast left-hander and found something solid in the Estonian undergrowth. The Belgian did complete the stage, losing over a minute, but the damage was judged too severe to complete the remaining four stages.
Kalle Rovanpera continued to claw back positions after his tyre delamination dropped him to eighth earlier this morning.
Elfyn Evans suffered a similar tyre failure on the dramatic Prangli stage but lost minimal time on the stage as it happened near the stage end. Although, the resulting bodywork and aerodynamic damage have no doubt hindered his assault on the other four stages.
Rovanpera eventually jumped Evans for fourth when he went fastest on the final stage of the day. Ogier’s loss of pace during the second loop was compounded by an overshoot and stall on the day’s final stage.
Ogier explained that he had a tyre off the rim from the start of the final stage which led to his mistake. His hard-charging team-mate Rovanpera is now just six seconds behind with six stages to go tomorrow.
The remaining Toyota driver, Takamoto Katsuta, continues to impress in sixth position and is comfortably ahead of M-Sport drivers’ Esapekka Lappi and Teemu Suninen.
Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motorsport