Peugeot number one Marcus Gronholm continues to lead the Neste Rally Finland, despite losing fourth gear in his 307 WRC this [Saturday] afternoon.
His 35.1 second advantage may well look healthy going into the final day of competition, however the Finn will be all too aware that another 95 kilometres of competition can still throw up surprises and his first win since Argentina 2003 is far from secured.
"Today has not been an easy day, but I'm delighted to be leading," said the Finn. "We started off with a feeling that was quite all right, but still not completely perfect. Then we had the gearbox problem that was a real worry, but we actually lost less time than I thought we would.
"The last stages were fine, but I could not relax for a minute. We have to keep pushing hard until the very end."
Markko Martin, second, has been pushing hard all day; however last year's Rally Finland winner is not convinced he can overhaul Gronholm without some outside assistance!
"There is a big gap between Marcus and myself and we'll need outside help if we are to win because there's no way I can catch him unless he hits trouble," noted Martin. "I have to ensure I don't make any mistakes now and there is no point in attacking too much tomorrow. We need to regain more than 30 seconds and the most we could probably achieve is a handful."
Carlos Sainz meanwhile has moved up into third position and team-mate Sebastien Loeb
has rocketed up the leaderboard into fourth from an overnight seventh. Both Citroen
drivers were more upbeat today...
"We found the settings, which enabled us to be on the right pace," explained Loeb. "Barring incidents, the positions will not change."
Janne Tuohino has seemingly just not had the pace today though and has slipped to fifth, while Jani Paasonen rounds off the top six in the lead Skoda.
"It wasn't a bad day but it wasn't a good one either," said Tuohino. "The only problem was with the driver and I didn't really set any good times. I didn't find the right braking line and I don't know why. I made a few small mistakes and it just didn't go as well as yesterday."