Otto Tennock’s transmission problem was fixed, but he still lost 0.4 seconds to Elphin Evans in the battle for second place at the Ypres Rally in Belgium.
Tianak reported a transmission problem in the second half of the morning loop and duly dropped 16.2 seconds off the lead – even as the leader rallied Thierry Neuville wasn’t convinced that Tenac really had a problem.
But after serving out the problem, Tenak sped up – tied with Neuville in both of the first two splits.
The Rally Finland winner dropped for some time towards the end of the stage, effectively 0.4s behind Evans despite being as much as 2.1s ahead – meaning his overall gap was reduced to just 4.9 s, but Tenak is at least back in the groove.
“Yes, that problem is solved, just different settings, so it takes a bit of getting used to,” he said. “But it works fine.”
Neuville ran fastest for the third stage in a row, extending his lead to a potentially insurmountable 18.3s.
“I had a clean run,” Neuville said, “I don’t like this stage, so I’m always too careful in the cuts.”
Esappeka Lappi is out of contention on the leaderboard but narrowly slipped away when a wild slide on the exit of a corner meant his Toyota flirted with a roadside ditch.
Kanova hid, waiting to suck him, but Lappy managed to avoid the mistake and continued on his way.
“To be fair, it’s been pretty slick,” Lappi said, “more pollution than yesterday, so yeah, it’s challenging.”
Throughout Saturday morning, Adrien Furmault outclassed Oliver Solberg, leapfrogging him into fifth place overall.
But the 4.5s lead the M-Sport driver had built suddenly looked less secure as Solberg beat Furmo by 2.9s in the first service-free stage.
Solberg struggled with understeer on the first lap, but was the happier driver aboard the Hyundai in the afternoon.
“Now the car was better than before, I could play with the car more, but with two spares in the fast team it can be a bit tricky,” said Solberg.
Furmaux countered: “It was a clean stage for us, it’s quite dirty, so I just don’t want any mistakes.”
Takamoto Katsuta is now in solitary seventh, returning to the top 10 during the morning following his gearbox drama on Friday.
His pace in SS13 was impressive as Katsuta finished fourth.
Gus Greensmith has dropped heavily from the points-paying positions after an infield run in the morning damaged the rear left corner of his car.
His M-Sport Ford Puma Rally1 was back in full force, but Greensmith’s time was a little behind the rest, 9.3s shy of team-mate Fourmault, who was the second-slowest Rally1 car on the stage.