The Toyota driver excelled in difficult moist situations to set quickest instances on 4 of Friday’s six levels to open up a 36.4s lead over Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville.
Elfyn Evans climbed from eighth to second via the day however misplaced floor on the day’s remaining stage to fall behind Neuville, 47.2s adrift of the chief. Evans must outscore Rovanpera on this weekend’s three-country rally to disclaim his team-mate a second world title.
M-Sport’s Ott Tanak managed to outlive the tough situations to occupy fourth (+1m30.4s) forward of Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta, who accomplished a strong drive.
Eight-time world champion Sebastien Ogier recovered to sixth, 2m35.9s behind Rovanpera, after dropping nearly a minute to a tyre problem on the day’s first stage. Teemu Suninen and Gregoire Munster crammed seventh and eighth positions.
Hyundai’s Esapekka Lappi retired from third after an enormous crash in stage 5, from which each driver and co-driver Janne Ferm emerged unscathed.
After clear sweeping the morning levels, Rovanpera’s run of stage wins got here to halt on stage six (Vlachovo Březí 2, 13.66km). Regardless of the climate clearing, the Finn’s move was some eight seconds slower than the morning run due the moist and muddy street situations.
“It is positively fairly tough,” mentioned Rovanpera. “Although the climate is drying up the levels are actually soiled. I hope this one was the worst of the loop.”
Picture by: Toyota Racing
Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1
Evans got here via to win the stage by 1.1s from Neuville, who felt he’d squeezed the utmost from his run. Evans’ effort lowered Rovanpera’s result in 27.5s and prolonged his margin over Neuville to 2.0s.
Tanak dropped an additional 8.6s as he continued to battle with the set-up of his M-Sport Puma. He was nonetheless quicker than Ogier and Katsuta.
Katsuta was the final to move via the stage as organisers have been pressured to cancel take a look at resulting from spectators standing in harmful places. Notional instances have been awarded to the remaining crews but to traverse the take a look at.
Rovanpera responded to Evans’ effort in stage seven (Zvotoky, 23.81km) by taking 9.7s out of the Welshman, who couldn’t discover the candy spot on the slippery street. The trouble was sufficient for Rovanpera to assert his fourth stage win of the occasion.
“I had a very dangerous feeling so I hoped he [Kalle] was a bit the identical, however clearly not,” reported Evans, who trailed Rovanpera by 37.2s after discovering his tyres have been “shifting quite a bit”.
Neuville was additionally 1.7s faster than Evans and closed to inside 0.3s of second total.
Tanak felt the situations have been getting worse which contributed to his 17.6s time loss whereas Ogier, 24.6s away from the tempo, was lowered to only working via the levels safely.
Fifth-placed Katsuta survived a scare of his personal, that nearly noticed him discover the timber, to publish the sixth quickest time.
Neuville produced his most spectacular drive of the day to win stage eight (Sumavske Hostice, 23.43km). The Belgian was shocked by his tempo as his benchmark time proved 1.1s quicker than Rovanpera.
Picture by: Austral / Hyundai Motorsport
Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Workforce Hyundai i20 N Rally1
In distinction, Evans had a number of moments throughout his run which added as much as him ceding 11.1s and second total to Neuville.
There was additionally a drama for Tanak, who ended the stage with no gear lever. However he nonetheless clocked the fifth greatest time, behind Ogier.
“We now have no gear lever for the final 5-7km,” mentioned Tanak. “I do not know why it occurs to me, in all probability an excessive amount of time within the health club.”
Tanak’s M-Sport team-mate Pierre-Louis Loubet endured a stage to neglect. The Frenchman had already been issued a one-minute penalty and a 1,500 euro positive for not having his helmet strap fixed accurately in stage 4, earlier than he ran off the street. The incident, which necessitated a wheel change, value him 5 minutes which dropped him outdoors of the highest 10.
Hyundai’s Emil Lindholm ended the day main WRC2. The rally will cross into Germany and Austria on Saturday.