Pontus Tidemand will carry a WRC 2 lead of almost two minutes into tomorrow’s final leg of Dayinsure Wales Rally GB after another dominant display on Saturday.
The Swede won six of the nine speed tests in a Skoda Fabia R5 to open a 1min 43.4sec advantage over home hero Tom Cave following a marathon 17-hour day of fast and furious action in the mid-Wales forests.
Tidemand, who has already secured the category crown, controlled a comfortable lead of nearly a minute for much of the day through the wet and muddy forests.
When thick fog and rain engulfed the penultimate Aberhirnant test, his confidence and experience shone brightly in the gloom and he almost doubled his lead in less than 14km.
Cave fought tooth and nail with fellow Ford Fiesta R5 driver Eric Camilli. The Frenchman held the advantage initially before a puncture cost vital seconds and allowed Cave through. He ended the day 7.1sec ahead.
A superb final stage drive from David Bogie enabled the Scot to overhaul Eyvind Brynildsen for fourth. Bogie’s advantage was only 2.5sec, but Norwegian Brynildsen held a comfortable margin of almost 80sec over Skoda youngster Juuso Nordgren in sixth.
Former WRC stalwart Matthew Wilson retired his Fiesta after a double puncture in the second pass through the long Dyfi stage left him stranded with only one spare onboard.
Teemu Suninen is fighting to secure the runners-up spot in the championship, but the Finn’s troubled weekend continued. Power steering problems cost time, before his day ended prematurely when he retired two stages from the end.