Kubica holds a 12.4sec advantage in his Citroen DS3 RRC over Evans’ Ford Fiesta R5 and the two frontrunners have built a sizeable gap over Sepp Wiegand’s Skoda Fabia S2000 in third.
Evans ate into Kubica’s advantage during the morning loop of three stages through the vineyards on the banks of the Mosel river. But Kubica bounced back this afternoon to widen the gap, despite a far from easy three stages.
“We had only one clean stage – the last one,” he said. “On the first stage after service we broke the rear window in a compression. We tried to make repairs but forgot to fasten the boot properly and drove the next stage with it flapping open. I think we lost more than half a minute,” he explained.
Evans was hugely encouraged. “We were reasonably close to Robert and we’ve learned so much. I hope we can build on that tomorrow without taking risks,” said the Welshman.
Wiegand overcame intercom problems this morning but he is only 3.7sec ahead of Hayden Paddon, who staged a superb recovery from sixth after losing time yesterday with a broken power steering belt in his Skoda Fabia S2000.
The Kiwi was fastest on all three morning stages, his choice of hard compound tyres proving perfect and carrying him to one sixth and two seventh fastest times overall.
“To pull back a minute on Sepp was more than we expected, but this afternoon, in the drier conditions, we had no answer to the turbocharged cars of the two guys at the front. We expect more average weather tomorrow so perhaps we can make the right tyre choice again,” said Paddon.
Armin Kremer retired his Fiesta RRC from fourth in the opening stage, allowing Subhan Aksa and Rashid Al Ketbi to complete the top six.
Eyvind Brynildsen had yet more dramas in his Fiesta R5, a broken handbrake and loose steering rack hindering the Norwegian. He is seventh.
Robert Barrable failed to restart after damaging his Fiesta R5’s radiator last night. Despite his team working until 02.00, they were unable to restore the car to full health.