The Irishman returned to Jyvaskyla after a tough day’s competition north of the city with a 1min 34.2sec advantage over Sebastien Chardonnet. Finn Jussi Vainionpaa is two minutes off the lead in third, all three drivers in Citroen DS3 R3T cars.
Fisher and Cronin resumed their enthralling battle with just a few tenths separating the pair in the rain on the opening Jukojarvi test. However, after Fisher crashed in the next stage, Cronin seized the initiative and extended his lead by winning five of the next eight stages.
“Everything went very well today,” said Cronin. “The stages were fast and the feeling was fantastic. There is still quite a long way to go tomorrow and although we have a good lead, we can’t afford to stroll home to victory,” analysed the Irish driver.
Chardonnet climbed from fifth to second, while Vainionpaa’s consistency enabled him to hold onto third. He ended the day in style by setting fastest time through the Killeri super special stage.
Despite a puncture in SS12, Simone Campedelli produced a solid performance in fourth. French driver Quentin Gilbert had a tough day, losing several minutes with a series of technical problems and he is eight minutes off the lead in fifth.
Stephane Consani retired during the second run of Jukojärvi after going off and picking up a puncture. Christian Riedemann and Federico Della Casa suffered the same fate in SS14.