A fastest time by Tanak on stage two, coupled with a high-speed 360-degree spin for Toyota’s Takamoto Katsusta who had set the pace on the short opening ‘Harju’ city test, moved him to the top of the leaderboard.

Tanak has won the last two instalments of the gravel meeting in 2018 and 2019, with this being the first time the former World Rally Champion has sampled the Scandinavian roads in a Hyundai i20 Coupe World Rally Car.

Speaking at the end of stage three before crews return to service, the Estonian said he had had to hit the reset button after a frustrating start. “I was not happy in the first stage with the car,” he revealed.

“I had quite a bad pre-event [test], so we changed a lot fundamentally. It seems to have worked OK but I need to get used to [the car]. There’s still too much hesitating and searching but we can improve.”

Breen - runner-up in Estonia and Ypres this season - stayed in touch with a rejuvenated Tanak thanks to some committed driving through the forests.

The earlier issue he experienced with his car through ‘Harju’ that left it feeling underpowered cleared itself, allowing the Irishman to keep his hopes of a maiden victory in the World Rally Championship very much alive.

Asked how he was feeling in the car, Breen said: “I'm on top of the bloody world. I just don’t have the words to describe the feeling. It is absolutely amazing.”

3.2 seconds behind Breen on his return to the top flight since last December's Monza Rally is Esapekka Lappi.

With his confidence - and pace - steadily growing, he moved into third place on SS3 at the expense of his Toyota team-mate, Elfyn Evans, who admitted his untidy driving was costing him precious tenths of a second.

Pre-event favourite Kalle Rovanpera is fifth, 5.2 seconds up on a sanguine Thierry Neuville. "I am happy," said the Belgian, "but I will need to take risks to be faster."

As a direct result of Sebastien Ogier running first on the road and sweeping it clean of the top layer of gravel, the reigning champion is currently languishing down in seventh, 12.8 seconds clear of early leader Katsuta who is in eighth.

In WRC2, meanwhile, Citroen Racing's Mads Ostberg holds a 4.9 second buffer over the Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 belonging to Teemu Suninen.