Chardonnet began Saturday’s competition 40.4sec adrift of Gilbert, but after a thrilling fight that went back and forth throughout the day, Gilbert’s advantage going into Sunday’s final leg is exactly 23 seconds.
Keith Cronin remains third, 1min 23,7sec behind Chardonnet. All three are driving Citroen DS3 R3T cars.
Rain showers and fog on many of Saturday’s stages made conditions treacherous and the low-grip conditions deteriorated as more drivers completed the stages, leaving the roads littered with muddy sections.
Although the sun did make a brief appearance during the remote midday service, the weather deteriorated again when the crews set off for the second loop.
Particularly comfortable in these varied conditions, Chardonnet won the day’s first two stages, cutting his deficit by 13.8 seconds. Gilbert hit back on the next three. The scrap between the two Frenchmen was spectacular, with their stage times just a few tenths apart. At the end of the day, they were both very pleased:
“What a day!” said Chardonnet. “It was a really good fight with Quentin. It will be difficult to win in normal racing conditions and I don’t want to take any unnecessary risks in order to make sure of the points. If we hold onto this position, we have a mathematical chance of securing the WRC 3 title.”
“Our set-up wasn’t perfect this morning, but we were able to make the required changes for the second loop," said Gilbert. “Having said that, things didn’t get all that much easier! Sébastien was really very quick and the challenge was very motivating. We have to maintain the gap if we want to have a chance of winning tomorrow.”
Third-placed driver Cronin went for consistency, determined not to make any mistakes. The Irishman holds a 2min 13sec lead over his nearest challenger, and final WRC 3 runner, Christian Riedemann.