The supremely talented Finn was, once again, head and shoulders above every other Rally1 driver across Saturday's nine stages. Despite insisting he was "taking no risks" and "driving at a good pace", he managed to record seven fastest times to extend his lead over Elfyn Evans to 29.1 seconds.

Rovanpera’s aim of extending his consecutive run of stage wins across from Friday into Saturday was briefly interrupted by Evans on the opening test, although it counted for little as it brought the two Yaris drivers two tenths of a second closer. Over the next three stages before crews returned to service in Tartu, Rovanpera turned the screw on the first pass through ‘Mäeküla’, ‘Otepää’ and ‘Neeruti’ to top the timesheets by some 19 seconds.

As has become the norm for Rovanpera, he managed to find a way to distance himself from everyone behind him despite initially struggling with the balance of his car. “We have a good feeling now in the car,” he said after working on it in-between runs. “In the morning I was not as awake as I normally am and not where I wanted to be, but the last two were nice. The set-up was a bit better and I had more grip.”

That was not what Evans wanted to hear and the double World Rally Championship runner-up simply had no answer for the Young Finn’s pace, his fastest time on Saturday’s opener proving to be a false dawn for the Welshman, his hesitancy on roads that served up mixed grip due to occasional rain showers not helping matters.

Hyundai Motorsport’s Ott Tanak had a largely incident-free morning, although he did have to carry out brake setting changes on his own after his mechanics ran out of time during the 15-minute morning service halt such was the number of jobs on the to-do list. Thierry Neuville was still having to temper his frustration at a car that simply refused to respond to inputs the way he wanted; he was loving the stages but missing the grip he craved. “It was a clean loop for us,” he said, despite a noticeable crack on his car’s windscreen proving an unwelcome distraction. “We had no real problems, we are trying to survive. Anything can happen and in the place we are, there is no reason to push.”

Takamoto Katsuta in fifth continued to focus on him – and him alone. His neat and tidy, “not driving to the maximum”, approach was rewarded when he moved past the M-Sport Ford Puma Rally 1 of Adrien Fourmaux and built up a slender 6.3 second buffer to the Frenchman. They both gained a place at the expense of Esapekka Lappi on SS12 when he stopped to change a wheel that was damaged by a heavy landing. A similar problem for Gus Greensmith in ‘Otepää’ after a heavy sideways compression meant he swapped eighth place with Pierre-Loius Loubet.

The recurring theme in the afternoon was the size - and frequency - of ruts that littered the competitive route. Many complained while Rovanpera simply put his head down and quietly got on with the job in hand. On SS14 - the re-run of 'Elva' - he felt he could have gone much quicker. He needn't have worried, though, because he continued to put more daylight between himself and Evans with every passing mile and by the day's end an 11.7 second lead had musrhoomed to almost half-a-minute.

For his part, Evans conceded he simply had no tools in his chest to stem the brilliance that was playing out in front of him. “Realistically now there's quite a big gap,” he said. “In this rally you need to be consistently chipping in the times and to be fair to Kalle, I’ve had no answer this afternoon - and even all day, to be fair. He's done very well so far.”

That sense of, ‘hold on to what you have got’, was echoed by 2020 Rally Estonia winner Tanak. He didn't have the best afternoon, the low point - quite literally - coming on SS16 as his I20 N Rally1 dragged itself to the time control. He continues to chip away and has a minute and eight seconds in hand over team-mate Neuville whose attention has partly turned to next month's Rally Finland. "We are thinking and testing different things...but when the grip is changing, I lose the positioning of the car and I have to correct. It's in those places where I lose the time because I stop the speed," he explained.

Katsuta continues to keep Fourmaux at arm's length who, in turn, is 41.5 seconds up the road from a so far luckless Lappi. M-Sport Ford's Loubet and Greensmith are much further back in eighth and ninth with the top ten rounded out by Andreas Mikkelsen - the current WRC2 leader.