Flodin had been on stunning form for the first six stages of the event, winning each test to build up a lead of more than a minute.
The Swede knew full well that, having started the event 18 points adrift of Production title favourite Armindo Araujo, nothing but a win would do for him - and, for much of the opening day in mid-Wales, everything had looked good for him.
It all went wrong just after the start of the second run through the Myherin test, when he hit a rock with a front wheel and damaged the steering. Flodin coped manfully with the problem, containing the time loss with drastically reduced control over the car’s direction for the remaining 27 kilometres of SS7.
Having overcome his own problems in the morning, Pirelli Star Driver Tanak wasted no time in scoring his first fastest time of the day to lead the event back in to Cardiff for the final service of day one.
The Estonian felt his engine hadn’t run cleanly through the morning stages, with the turbo anti-lag system not functioning properly. Following the remote service in Builth Wells, the car was running well in the afternoon.
“We made some adjustments,” said Tanak. “We couldn’t do anything with the mapping because of the regulations, but the car was better in the afternoon. It was tricky this morning, we couldn’t get the engine to rev clean enough to get the shift light. We also made some changes to the suspension. This morning, the car wasn’t moving under braking to shift the weight to get it turned in.”
Despite his tricky morning, Tanak had built a 40-second lead over Araujo, who was doing nothing to jeopardise his possible back-to-back titles. “This rally is not for me to win,” he said. “Maybe it’s still for Flodin. But for me, I am taking it easy, I’m not going to make the risk or anything. For this afternoon, I made the car a little bit more soft to try and get some more traction.”
Flodin was third at the end of the day, just 1.5 seconds behind Araujo. Czech Republic driver Martin Semerad was fourth in his Lancer, despite struggling through the second run of stages which were run in heavy rain. “The weather is crazy!” said Semerad, who had run in second through the morning. “The screen was getting foggy [misted up], which made it difficult. It’s been a tough day today.”
Leading British driver Dave Weston was fifth in his Subaru Impreza WRX, albeit more than two minutes adrift of leader Araujo.
New Zealander Hayden Paddon was another driver who had made a solid start to the event, but his Pirelli Star Driver Mitsubishi suffered a broken left-rear rear wishbone, which had to be strapped together due to the regulations not allowing any spare parts at the Builth Wells service. He dropped from a possible podium spot to seventh.