Nasser Al-Attiyah turned the tables on Jari Ketomaa to move back into the lead of WRC 2 after the third day of Rally de Portugal.
After losing a daylong lead to Ketomaa on the final stage yesterday, Al-Attiyah regained top spot tonight as the penultimate day came to a close and holds an 11.2sec advantage over the Finn.
Ketomaa had the best of the morning in his Ford Fiesta R5, extending his 4.7sec overnight advantage to 17.4sec. However, the Qatari was on top form this afternoon, taking the lead in his Fiesta RRC on the penultimate stage.
“This afternoon we changed the set-up and opted for hard compound tyres,” said Al-Attiyah. “The last parts were very slippery but hard tyres were still a good choice. Tomorrow will be a big fight.”
Ketomaa lost most of his advantage on the afternoon’s opening stage when his power steering stopped working. He stopped to reset the system but his lunchtime lead was all but wiped out.
“I’m going flat out but for some reason I can’t catch him. I can’t do more. Maybe it’s the difference in the car, but I’m coming as fast as I can. It’s not over yet,” said Ketomaa.
Reigning JWRC champion Pontus Tidemand is third on his WRC 2 debut in a Fiesta R5 but he has Karl Kruuda breathing down his neck. The Estonian slashed the gap to Tidemand to just 4.4sec this afternoon.
Bernardo Sousa lies fifth, despite feeling his car was lacking power this afternoon, and Frenchman Julien Maurin completes the top six.
Fredrik Ahlin was fifth but the Swede, who was suffering from an upset stomach, hit a rock after a late pace note call and punctured a tyre. He dropped to 10th.
Max Rendina won every stage in the Production Cup category within WRC 2 and extended his lead to more than four-and-a-half minutes.