Tanak drove sensibly throughout the day, allowing Patrik Flodin to set the pace for the majority of the stages, the Swede still hoping to win P-WRC in order to maintain pressure on the Production points leader Armindo Araujo.
After the second run through Monument Hill, Flodin had slashed the gap to leader Tanak to just 23 seconds. But still the Swede wasn’t happy, saying: “The suspension feels quite stiff in places, not so good as yesterday. I didn’t like the asphalt sections in the stages, I’m not so good on that surface. Also, there were a lot of rocks around which were quite daunting when you saw them. It’s tough to make up the time, I wish it would rain - I usually go well in those kinds of wet and changeable conditions.”
One stage later and Flodin’s mood had darkened further. He got through SS14, but the absence of a front wheel meant he was going no further. The departure of the only man capable of denying him the title meant Araujo wound his Lancer back even more.
Flodin’s retirement also left Tanak two minutes clear and looking good for a second P-WRC win of the season. Tanak said: “The first stage this morning was quite tricky. It was narrow and rough in places, which made it difficult, but we got through. [Patrik] Flodin has been here before, so he has notes from previous events, some times my notes are not perfect. With Patrik gone, there’s nothing else I can do. I just need to keep the pace, there’s no battle so there’s no need for me to go any faster.”
Former Pirelli Star Driver Martin Semerad was enjoying the drive of his life in his own Mitsubishi. Despite feeling ill, the Czech Republic driver guided his car to second in P-WRC overnight - and fastest through the second run at Halfway.
“I need more pills,” he said. “I didn’t feel well today at all. It’s been quite a tough day, but it’s a good result for me at the moment.”
Araujo’s Ralliart Italia team had made a precautionary change of turbo on the car last night, incurring a 20-second penalty while getting the job done. None of that mattered to Araujo now, though. All that mattered was getting through the stages which stood between himself and a successful P-WRC title defence. “I’m in control of the championship,” he said. “But still we need to make sure there are no problems.”
Hayden Paddon made up for a difficult opening day with some spirited times through Saturday. Tanak’s PSD team-mate was fourth at the close of play, with British Subaru drivers Jason Pritchard and Dave Weston rounding out the top six. Weston’s day was spoiled when a transmission fault left his Subaru in rear-wheel drive only.