Dennis Rådström fended off a charging Jan Solans to lead the FIA Junior WRC category at Rally Italia Sardegna on Saturday night.
Solans won the first five of today’s hot and dusty dirt road speed tests in his Ford Fiesta R2 to cut his overnight deficit from almost 20sec to just 1.2sec.
The Spaniard looked poised to snatch the lead in the final Monte Lerno test, but Rådström finally found top gear to win the stage and extend his advantage to 4.4sec with one day remaining of the Mediterranean island event.
Series leader Tom Kristensson could not match the fierce pace of the leading pair but maintained third. Raul Badiu was more than a minute back in fourth, with Martins Sesks in fifth.
Julius Tannert plunged down the order from fifth after damaging his radiator. He made roadside repairs but collected 3min 40sec in penalties for arriving late at the next stage. It relegated him to eighth, but the German battled back to end the day in sixth.