Rovanpera trailed Tanak by 1.4 seconds heading into the Power Stage, but with wet tyres he traversed the test 5.6 seconds quicker to trade places with the 2019 champion and secure top spot by 4.3 seconds.

“I was sure we could not be so fast with these tyres, but it's amazing,” said Rovanpera. “We pushed really hard and I think we deserve it this weekend. For sure, it was the toughest win of my career.”

Tanak finally unseated Rovanpera at the head of the leaderboard on the penultimate stage but conceded at the finish he was powerless to match the speed of the Finnish star through the all-important ‘Zagorska Sela – Kumrovec’ test.

“I didn’t take any risks, but Kalle obviously did a good drive,” he said. “We were fighting for the win, but only because of clever decisions and tyre choices.”

On Sunday’s opener it appeared as though the Estonian had let Rovanpera off the hook when his call to bolt four soft compound tyres to his I20 N Rally1 car backfired, as a 19.9 second gap grew to just over half-a-minute.

The grippier rubber was better suited through SS18, though – the muddy ‘Zagorska Sela – Kumrovec’ test – but Tanak only succeeded in outpacing the 21-year-old by 2.7 seconds.

But when the rain Tanak had been praying for finally arrived on the penultimate test, his strategy of taking four softs and two wets with him in the morning service paid off handsomely. He set a blistering pace through ‘Trakoscan –Vrbno’ to overturn a 28.4 second deficit and move into a 1.4 second lead.

However, the momentum swung in Rovanpera's favour for the Power Stage, which he exited with a full quota of points to extend his lead in the drivers’ standings over Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville to 29 points.

Tyres also had a hand in shaping the outcome of the final podium place, with Neuville moving his I20 N Rally1 car in front of Craig Breen’s M-Sport Ford Puma Rally1 car on the penultimate stage. Running hard tyres on wet roads, Breen was a sitting duck as the Belgian sped through it 34 seconds quicker.

On a weekend married by time penalties and indiscretions, the Power Stage threw a final curveball at Neuville. An overshoot resulted in two punctures and co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe then had to resort to giving hand signals when their intercom system started playing up.

"At the end, I got caught under braking with the hard tyres and we just went straight on. Luckily we got away with it," he said. "We were very unlucky with a couple of the small issues we had over the weekend, but at the end the luck was on our side. Everything is good."

Elfyn Evans wrapped up a "disappointing weekend" in fifth and bagged three Power Stage points, with Toyota team-mate Takamoto Katsuta settling for sixth. "I had no confidence at all [this weekend]," said Katsuta, "but the team supported me very well and that's why I was able to survive this rally."